Political

New electoral registration rules now in force for elections

Good news: this time, it is a change in election law that is a jolly good thing.

In the past, although the electoral register is updated each month, there was a pause over the summer and early autumn whilst councils carry out their big annual update. That means that for elections held during the pause, there was no way for people who had recently moved in to the area to get on the register. They therefore lost their right to vote in the election.

But now new rules, which came into force on 4 September, mean that such people who have recently moved in can get on the register and vote.

These news rules cover Parliamentary, European Parliamentary, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and local council election and by-elections held between 1 July and 1 December (otherwise known as the ‘canvass period’, which is when the monthly updates go on hold).

As the Electoral Commission’s guidance explains,

The new legislative provisions require the Electoral Registration Officer, in the event of an election during the canvass, to process and action all new applications and amendments to existing elector details made on canvass forms that have been received by the registration deadline for that election (that is, 11 working days before the date of the poll)…

When a canvass form contains pre-printed names that have been crossed out or where some other indication has been given on the canvass form that a person is no longer resident at that address, their entry cannot be removed from the register by the election notice of alteration on these grounds alone. These names should not be deleted by the notice of alteration and should remain on the register for the election. There are, however, certain limited circumstances in which names can be removed from the register by the election notice of alteration.

Names should be removed from the register by the election notice of alteration only if any of the following occurs:

  • an elector has died and a relative or a registrar sends notification of the death to the Electoral Registration Officer
  • the elector themselves notifies the Electoral Registration Officer that they are no longer resident or qualify for registration
  • the Electoral Registration Officer determines after an objection or a review of registration that an entry in the register should be removed
  • the applicant has successfully applied for registration at a different address in the Electoral Registration Officer’s area and the previous address is given on or with the application
  • notification has been received from another Electoral Registration Officer stating that an elector has successfully applied for registration in another area
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