William Eichler 17 July 2017

Election registration system ‘needs modernising’, commission says

Election registration system ‘needs modernising’, commission says

Modernisation of the registration system for elections is ‘urgently needed’ to ease the burden on councils, commission says.

A new report from the Electoral Commission has called for ‘urgent action’ to reduce both the scale and the administrative impact of duplicate registration applications.

The report found the numbers of duplicate applications - that is, applications from people already on the electoral register - were high during the last election, with estimates from Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) ranging from 30% to 70%.

The Commission wants to see more automatic checks incorporated into the online application service to highlight if someone has already submitted an application.

Electoral registration should be more joined-up with other public services, to make registering to vote even simpler for the public and more efficient for EROs, the Commission’s report also says.

This should include integrating applications into other public service transactions and better use of national data to identify new electors or home movers.

More than 2.9 million applications to register to vote were made across the UK between the announcement of the election on 18 April and the deadline for applications on 22 May, including 612,000 on 22 May itself.

Of these applications, 96% were made online through the Government’s designated portal.

‘The size of the registered electorate for the general election demonstrates the UK’s strong tradition of democratic engagement, and reflects the hard work of all concerned,’ said Commission chair Sir John Holmes.

‘However, if we are to keep pace with modern habits and practice in a digital world, the electoral registration system must continue to evolve, and consider innovative solutions such as direct or automatic enrolment processes.

‘These have the potential to deliver significant improvements to the accuracy and completeness of electoral registers as well as efficiencies for local authorities and the public purse.’

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