Press release

Biggest change to voter registration in a generation

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Individual Electoral Registration will give people more control over the process and increase the accuracy of the register.

The next step towards a voting system fit for the 21st century will arrive today as Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) prepare to contact voters across the UK about the changes to the electoral register.

Individual Electoral Registration (IER) will give people more control and ownership over the process and increase the accuracy of the register – with the new system able to verify that everyone on the register is who they say they are. This will ensure that there is greater trust in the legitimacy and fairness of our elections.

This change gets rid of the outdated ‘head of household’ registration system and places electoral registration in the hands of individuals. From today members of the public will be contacted by their local ERO to inform them of what, if anything, they need to do next.

Today also marks the launch of a TV, online and billboard public awareness campaign by the Electoral Commission to raise awareness of the changes.

The process is supported by a new online system launched last month which makes registering easier than ever. People can now register by simply providing their name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number in what is a secure, convenient, and modern way of registering to vote.

Minister of State at the Cabinet Office Greg Clark said:

It is only right that in a country which has such a long and proud history of democratic participation, we ensure that we have an electoral registration system fit for the 21st century.

These changes ensure that individuals register securely and enable them to register in the simplest possible way.

Under the new system, around 80% of those already on the electoral register will be automatically added after their name and address is matched against existing government records. Those people who are not successfully matched may need to provide additional information to be registered, but thanks to the new online electoral registration system, this is now a quick and easy process that takes as little as 3 minutes.

Notes to editors

  1. Letters will be sent from EROs in England and Wales during July and August. This will inform the public of the changes to the electoral system brought in under IER, how these changes affect them, and whether they need to do anything. The majority of people (around 80%) who are registered to vote at the moment will transfer automatically to the new system. Some people will need to provide extra information – their National Insurance number and date of birth – and their letter will tell them how to do this.
  2. The Electoral Commission is running a public awareness campaign to help make sure people respond to the letter they receive.
  3. Cabinet Office recently provided £4.2 million funding to local authorities to help improve registration among certain groups of electors, such as students or home movers to help make the register as accurate and complete as possible. The new system, in particular the online application, will make it easier and more convenient for young people in particular to get onto the register.
  4. The new online electoral registration system is the third of the government’s 25 digital exemplars to go live.