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Individual Electoral Registration

Volume 598: debated on Thursday 16 July 2015

I am today laying before Parliament the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (Transitional Provisions) Order 2015, which will end the transition to individual electoral registration (IER) in December 2015.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that the transition to IER should end in December 2016. The Government are concerned that by retaining “carry forward” electors (those who have not yet registered under the new system of individual electoral registration) beyond December this year, this will pose an unacceptable risk to the accuracy of the register. Since the registers published by 1 December 2015 will be used for the parliamentary boundary review and then the elections in May 2016, retaining carry forward electors risks having an unknown number of redundant entries on the registers, which would distort the results of the boundary review, increase the risk of electoral fraud, and potentially compromise the integrity of those elections.

The Government do not agree that we should be making a choice between completeness and accuracy, given the importance of both elements in delivering a fair democratic system which commands the confidence and respect of voters. We need to be more ambitious. We can and should aim to achieve both, which is why the Government believe it is crucial that the registers used to conduct the parliamentary boundary review and for next year’s elections are as complete and as accurate as they can possibly be.

The remaining “carry-forward” group of electors is already only a third of its original size and by December they will have been contacted at least nine times to encourage them to register individually. In addition to this, I am pleased to announce that up to £3 million of additional funding is being made available for all electoral registration officers in Great Britain to target their non IER registered carry forward electors.

This funding will be targeted primarily at those authorities which have more than 5% of their register consisting of carry forward electors. All authorities however will be entitled to bid for funding, if they feel they need to take additional steps to target this group of electors.