News story

How Birmingham City Council is working to build a stronger democracy

The Minister for the Constitution visited Birmingham City Council today to see how they're making it easier and more efficient to register to vote.

chris skidmore birmingham

Birmingham City Council is running a pilot project, funded by the Cabinet Office, that targets electors whose circumstances have changed and need to re-register. This pilot project will prevent time and money being wasted on targeting households where details remain the same.

The council compares locally held data to the information on the electoral register. The electoral officers then target their resources on the households where the information doesn’t match, meaning they can use their resources more efficiently.

The minister, Chris Skidmore, met staff from the council’s electoral services and praised their recent work on the EU Referendum. The recent referendum saw one of the highest turnouts in a UK-wide poll in a generation and electoral officers worked hard to ensure it was properly run.

The pilot project started in summer 2016 and will run until the end of the year. It is one of a number of pilots aimed at improving the process of maintaining their electoral registers. If successful, these pilots could lead to improvements in registration processes nationally leading to significant savings for taxpayers.

Chris Skidmore, Minister for the Constitution, said:

I am focused on building a stronger democracy which works for everyone. We have made great strides in improving the voter registration experience, meaning it is easier than ever for people to have their say in electoral decisions but there are still some groups that feel for whatever reason they cannot or should not register.

In my role as Minister for the Constitution I want to ensure the strength of our democracy by empowering people to use their voice and have their say.

I am here in Birmingham to learn more about how the council is working to ensure as many people as possible are engaged in our democracy.

Robert Connelly, Head of Electoral Services at Birmingham City Council, said:

We are pleased that our suggested changes to the registration process were selected as a pilot. We are working very closely with the Cabinet Office to explore ways of streamlining the registration system in order to provide efficiencies and value for money while ensuring that citizens can easily register and vote.

By targeting only households where there have been changes, we are making the best use of the limited resources that we have. It is exciting to be part of a process which, if successful, could be adopted throughout the country.

Published 3 October 2016