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Modernise and improve our electoral registration process

Last updated: 08:13pm 11 December 2019

We will continue to modernise and improve our electoral registration process, making it as accessible as possible so that every voice counts.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.42

Our verdict

The biggest change to the electoral registration process in recent years was the launch of online registration in 2014 as part of the move away from household registration to Individual Electoral Registration. That process concluded in December 2015 under the terms of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (Transitional Provisions) Order 2015. Nevertheless, according to a study by the Electoral Commission – the independent body which oversees UK elections – local government registers are still only partially accurate, with an estimated eight million people missing the chance to make their voice count in the 2015 election. This policy is a promise to further modernise and improve the electoral registration process, making it as accessible as possible.

Following the 2017 general election, work was done to improve access for vulnerable citizens. In September 2017, the government launched a call for evidence into access to elections. In its response it committed to engaging with the Accessibility of Elections Working Group to move forwards. Moreover, throughout 2019, the government published guidance and research on barriers to registration for homeless citizens and frequent moversethnic minorities, young people and students.

Another key element is canvassing reform. In June 2018, the government published Piloting Alternative Electoral Canvassing Models, an evaluation of pilots revealing that phone and email are as effective as current methods of producing a register of voters. This was followed by consultations in October 2018, and the publication of the Reform of the Annual Canvass Statement of Policy. The new canvass, which will use data-matching techniques, household data and alternative approaches, was enshrined in law in November 2019.

Over its term, the government demonstrated a commitment to making registration more accessible, especially for vulnerable categories, and reformed electoral canvassing, a move welcomed by the Electoral Commission. The Electoral Commission, however, has outlined the case for many more changes which are required to modernise and improve the system of electoral registration.  As those have not been adequately addressed, this policy remains ‘in progress’.

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