Select Committee on Constitutional Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum by Councillor Alec Samuels, Leader of the Conservative Group, Southampton City Council (VOT 10)

  The following comments are formally presented on behalf of the Conservative Group, Southampton City Council.

  (a)  Individual registration seems the best approach. It might remind or induce people to vote who otherwise would not or might not vote. Random checking should always be undertaken.

  (b)  If registration is compulsory by law then it must be enforced. Registration should be by any method desired by the citizen, provided that the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) is satisfied. The register should not be open to public inspection except for purposes required or permitted by law. The public should be explicitly and clearly and succinctly told what the legal position is regarding access.

  (c)  Those entitled and required to register should be expected to understand and use English, or find an interpreter to assist them if need be. The election should be conducted in English.

  (d)  Electronic methods should be open to citizens. The ERO should satisfy himself about security and reliability, and refuse registration or to accept a vote if not satisfied.

  (e)  So far as possible citizens with difficulties eg blind, infirm, disabled, whatever, should be so far as possible identified by the ERO, invited to contact him, and he should be required to contact them and even visit them if they need help. Consolidation of Council information seems sensible provided that it is required or permitted by law, and provided that personal details regarding tax and social security re similar matters are not disclosed to the public.

  (f)  The public should be explicitly and clearly and succinctly informed of the uses to which the register may lawfully be put beyond electoral purposes, and it should be otherwise confidential.

  (g)  Any form of registration should be permitted, provided that it can be validated if the ERO is not satisfied. ID cards and registration in due course should prove useful here. The register could be surely based on a variety of criteria.

  (h)  A national register seems a good idea, particularly as there is considerable movement of citizens from one electoral area to another all the time.

  (i)  The citizen should be entitled to register and to vote in any way he pleases provided that the ERO is satisfied, otherwise he should be able to call for validation. It should not be necessary to have to register for a postal vote. Postal voting forms should be automatically sent out at every election to every registered voter.

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Prepared 25 January 2005