New steps voters will be required to take to be included on the electoral register are set out today by the government.
The Individual Electoral Registration White Paper details the process for moving to individual voter registration, replacing the existing system of household registration. The change is designed to modernise the electoral system and tackle fraud.
Mark Harper MP, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, said:
Britain is almost alone in retaining a system of household registration, which is now widely considered to be outdated and vulnerable to fraud. Moving to individual electoral registration will help to ensure our system is more robust against fraud and gives every individual control over whether or not they are included on the register.
Under the proposals, voters will be asked to register individually from 2014, by providing their date of birth and national insurance number, all of which will be verified before they are added to the register. The government has brought forward the start date for implementing IER, which had not been due to start until 2015 at the earliest following a voluntary phase. Dropping the voluntary phase will save taxpayers £74 million.
The White Paper also looks at how else the system of electoral registration could be improved, for example by looking at how the process of registering can be made easier and more convenient.
In addition to publishing the White Paper, the government is also currently in the process of commencing a series of data-matching pilots as part of its commitment to make the electoral register more accurate and complete. The pilots will enable Electoral Registration Officers to match names and addresses on their electoral register with names and addresses on existing public authority databases, so that fraudulent names can be removed and people who are missing from the register have the opportunity to be added. The scheme will be rolled out across the country if successful.
The White Paper is open for consultation before legislation is introduced in the first part of 2012. The government plans for the first IER canvass to begin on 1 July 2014 and conclude when the revised register is published by 1 December 2014.
Notes to editors
- No voters will be removed from the electoral register for not registering individually until after the next general election, due to take place in May 2015, giving people at least 12 months to comply with the new requirements. From 2014, any new registrations will be on an individual basis and voters will also need to register individually to cast a proxy or postal vote.
- The White Paper applies to England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland has already adopted individual electoral registration.