A few constituents have written to me expressing concern about the introduction on Individual Voter Registration. Let me try and reassure them.
The aim is to complete the transition to Individual electoral registration by the end of this year. As the Association of Electoral Administrators has said, this is the best way to create an accurate register.
As the Minister has stated, under the old system the “head of the household” could register anybody living in a property with no identification needed. Most heads of households did so diligently and honestly, but it was possible for heads of households to provide false information, either by mistake as they were not fully aware of the future living arrangements or eligibility of people staying with them, or because they made a fraudulent declaration.
Under Individual Registration each person is responsible for their own registration, at the address where they are living. They need to supply a date of birth and an NI number which is used to check the applicant. During the transition from the old system to the new one, some 96 out of every hundred voters on the old register have transferred successfully. The remaining four out of 100 have not responded. They may be real voters, or former voters who have died, or voters who have moved and registered elsewhere, or they could be fraudulent registrations. Councils are actively seeking to contact them to clarify and make sure that all genuine voters are registered.
The Minister assures us that by the end of the process there will be at least nine attempts to contact each voter who has not qualified under the new system, including two personal visits. The chances by the end of the process of any genuine voter being off the register are “vanishingly” small. If anyone is concerned that they or a neighbour or friend has been left off they should get them to contact voter registration as soon as possible.
It must be right to have a more accurate register. It is surely high time individuals made their own arrangements for their vote, as they are the best judges of their eligibility and best placed to establish their own entitlement.