Individual Electoral Registration and Electoral Administration - Political and Constitutional Reform Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. The Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 passed by the then Labour Government, provided for a new system of electoral registration where each eligible elector is registered individually, instead of the current system of registration by household. The Coalition's Programme for Government promised to "reduce electoral fraud by speeding up the implementation of individual voter registration".[1] On 30 June 2011, the Government published a White Paper on individual electoral registration, with draft clauses and an impact assessment.[2] In the same month, the Government laid secondary legislation allowing for a series of data matching pilots in particular local authority areas to test how far comparing electoral registers against other public databases would allow eligible people missing from the register to be identified.[3] Our Report largely focuses on the proposals in the White Paper.

2. On 13 July and 14 September 2011, the Government published two further sets of draft legislation, with explanatory notes, including a range of proposed measures in the field of electoral administration.[4] These will be looked at in greater detail in Chapter 8.

3. The Committee decided to undertake pre-legislative scrutiny of these proposals in July 2011. Our witnesses have included academic experts, representatives of some of those groups who might be particularly affected by the proposals, local authority officials involved in administering electoral registers and elections and in conducting the data matching pilots, the Electoral Commission, and the Government. We are grateful as ever to all of our witnesses, and to those who provided us with written submissions.

4. This Report looks first at the likely impact of the Government's individual electoral registration proposals on both the completeness and accuracy of the electoral registers, as well as the impact on those who use the registers. We then consider the transitional provisions for 2014-15, before looking at resource implications of the proposals for local electoral registration officers. Finally, we consider the other electoral administration proposals, in so far as these have not already been taken into account.

5. Individual registration was implemented in Northern Ireland in 2002. The Government's proposals therefore largely relate to the rest of the United Kingdom. We attempt to draw lessons in this Report from the Northern Ireland experience where this is relevant.

6. We welcome the fact that these proposals have been published for pre-legislative scrutiny by us, as well as for wider consultation.

1   HM Government, The Coalition: our programme for Government, May 2010, p27 Back

2   Cabinet Office, Individual Electoral Registration, and Impact Assessment, Cm 8108 and 8109, June 2011 Back

3   Electoral Registration Data Schemes Order 2011 (S.I. 2011, No. 1466) Back

4   Cabinet Office, Draft electoral administration provisions, Cm 8150, July 2011 and Further draft electoral administration provisions, Cm 8177, September 2011


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Prepared 4 November 2011