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The government has today confirmed its intention to move to IER on 10 June 2014 in England and Wales and 19 September 2014 in Scotland.
The announcement, which follows the recent consideration of statutory instruments by both Houses of Parliament, came in a Written Ministerial Statement from Greg Clark, Minister for Cities and the Constitution.
This means that from those dates, people will no longer apply to register to vote as a household. Instead, everyone will apply as an individual, providing evidence of their identity such as a National Insurance Number and date of birth.
The timetable was originally set out in the White Paper Individual Electoral Registration in 2011 and confirmed in the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013. The Electoral Commission’s recent readiness report on the project, published in October, found no reason to delay implementation, and the government has today signalled that it agrees with the Commission’s judgement.
Greg Clark said:
Following the successful dry run of the data matching process over the summer, and the Electoral Commission’s assessment that there is no reason to delay implementation, this confirms progress towards a more modern, secure system of electoral registration.
It is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of all of those in local and central government and the Electoral Commission that we are on track to implement this major change in 2014.
The change will be carried out in partnership between the Cabinet Office and local Electoral Registration Officers.
Dr Dave Smith, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council and Chair of the Elections and Democracy Network Board at the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, said:
I welcome the announcement from the minister that the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration is to proceed as planned.
Electoral Registration Officers will continue to work with the government and other partners to deliver a successful transition to what will be the biggest change to the way people register to vote in over 100 years.
Trafford Council Chief Executive and Returning Officer Theresa Grant said:
Placing responsibility on individual electors to register, while a significant move away from the current system and not without its challenges, is wholeheartedly welcomed in Trafford.
Along with our Greater Manchester colleagues, we can see the many benefits and greater control it offers all eligible electors. While we do not envisage it significantly changing the numbers of local eligible voters, there is optimism that individual electoral registration may in fact see a few more voters registering. This can only be a good thing for local democracy.
Paul Lankester, Chief Executive and Electoral Registration Officer at Stratford on Avon District Council said:
I welcome this change in the electoral process as firstly the public can have more confidence in the security and robustness of the electoral register.
Although electoral fraud is not an issue within Stratford District the new system will reassure people and put the individual in charge of their own entry within the register, replacing the outdated household system.
Most people will not notice a change during the transition period but will find it a bonus when moving to a new property as they will now be able to register simply and quickly using a new online method.
More information on Individual Electoral Registration can be found on GOV.UK.