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Individual Electoral Registration Implementation Plan

Individual Electoral Registration Implementation Plan

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Published by Mark Pack

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Published by: Mark Pack on Jul 19, 2012
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Individual Electoral Registration: Implementing the Change 2012-2016Contents1. Ministerial Foreword2. What this will mean for the eligible Citizen3. What this will mean for Electoral Registration Officers and ElectoralAdministrators4. What needs to happen to implement Individual Electoral Registration at local level5. How we will implement this change
1. Foreword
I am delighted to publish the implementation plan for Individual Electoral Registration - the mostsignificant change to our system of electoral registration for many years.These changes aim to modernise and improve our electoral registration system, creating onewhich has better protection against electoral fraud and is more convenient for eligible citizens toregister to vote. It will put electors first and aims to increase public trust in our elections.The aim of this plan is to explain how the new system will affect eligible citizens and electoraladministrators and how this change will be delivered. In particular, it outlines the timetable for the work and how this will be managed alongside other activities electoral administrators willhave to carry out over that period.This is not a definitive manual on the new system of electoral registration and further moredetailed guidance will be published next year. Nor is this the only information that we will bemaking available this year to assist in the planning for implementation. The first tranche of draftsecondary legislation has just been published and further tranches will be published over thesummer. We will consult with local authorities on how the change will be funded, and willcontinue to work in partnership with local authorities on the development of the IT needed tosupport the new system and test the new system with eligible citizens and those representingpeople with special requirements.
It is the Government’s
intention, one shared by the other main partners involved, that the elector should be at the heart of our plans. That is therefore thestarting point for this plan, and throughout implementation we will be testing the new servicewith users to ensure it is fit for purpose.We also intend to implement this plan in partnership with Electoral Registration Officers,electoral administrators and the Electoral Commission - those with direct experience of runningthe electoral registration system. I am very grateful for the commitment and support they haveshown so far and look forward to continuing this partnership in the months and years ahead.Our approach so far has been to develop the elements of the new system of electoralregistration incrementally, testing our proposals with stakeholders, learning and adapting as wego. We have already consulted on the overall policy and draft primary legislation, adapting our policy to reflect feedback from Parliament and other stakeholders. We piloted data matchinglast year with 22 local authorities.We will continue this approach throughout the delivery of this change, to ensure that we haveassurance that the new service will work effectively on the ground before we go live in 2014.We are therefore planning further pilots this year to test the IT needed to support the newservice, as well as the process of confirming existing electors.I hope that you find this plan informative and helpful if you are involved in implementing the newsystem. Feedback will be absolutely critical to our success, so please send any comments or questions you may have to electoralregistration@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk
Mark HarperMinister for Political and Constitutional Reform
2. What this will mean for the Citizen
Registering to vote matters. It is the building block of our elections and an important civic duty.It provides people with an opportunity to elect their Member of Parliament, their local Councillor or Member of the European Parliament and is used as the basis for important activities like JuryService.The move to introduce Individual Electoral Registration (IER) has been called for by a widerange of bodies for many years to ensure that only those eligible to vote get on the electoralregister. However this change is also about giving people more direct control of their electoralregistration, as well as greater choice over how to register, such as the ability to apply online.Our aim is therefore to put the elector at the heart of our plans for the new system by makingelectoral registration as convenient as possible, giving people plenty of opportunities to register during the transition, and more choice over how to do it once the new system is in place.
taken care to ensure that the change is planned properly and takes people’s need
s intoaccount over the transition. Figure 1 summarises what an eligible citizen needs to do over thetransition to the new system.
It is important to be clear that until summer 2014, when the transition to the new systemgets underway, the current system of electoral registration will operate as now.
The only change will be that instead of asking each household to return a canvass form in the Autumn of 2013, the last canvass under the old system will take place in Spring 2014. This willensure that the register is as up to date as possible for the European elections and for thetransition to IER.
The transition to Individual Electoral Registration
 After the European parliamentary elections in June 2014, we will start the transition toIndividual Registration. It is important that the timing of the transition is achievable for administrators and makes sense from the point of view of electors. We will therefore not fix aprecise date for this to start until we have tested the system for confirming existing electors andhave decided whether we will be writing to people with the results of the confirmation before or after the summer.Once we have further evidence from our pilots and testing of the IT systems this year, we willannounce a firm timetable for the transition in early 2013, however we expect that the
transition will begin either in July or September 2014
(for simplicity the diagrams stateJuly). From that point onwards all new applications to register will have to be made individuallyusing the new system. It will also be possible to register to vote online, opening up more choiceover how to register.The transition will begin with the
confirmation of existing electors
. This means that if an
name is on the electoral register when the transition begins, we will try to match their name against information held by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on itsCustomer Information System. If we can match it, that entry on the register will be confirmed,the elector will be told about this and they will not need to take any further action.Evidence from piloting carried out in 2011 suggests that about two thirds of electors could beconfirmed this way, but this process is being tested and refined this year to confirm how it willwork in practice. We will also look to test other records
including local authority data - to seewhich are accurate and reliable enough to
be used to confirm people’s details on the register.

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