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Electoral Commission report on 1 December 2015 electoral registers in Great Britain

News release published: 02-03-2016

The size of the parliamentary electorate in Great Britain on 1 December 2015 was 43,478,635.                                                              

The report released today forms part of the Commission's planned programme for monitoring the transition to Individual Electoral Registration (IER).

The Commission reported in June 2015 that 1.9 million entries on the May 2015 electoral registers had been retained from the previous household registers.  Following a significant amount of work by EROs and their staff since then, including a comprehensive household canvass, the number removed from the registers at the end of the transition period was reduced to around 770,000, though the Commission notes that this does not include data from the London Borough of Hackney as they were unable to provide an accurate figure.  This represented 1.7% of the electorate and the Commission's report analyses this in more detail.

It is not possible to estimate the number of eligible electors who were removed from the registers.  However, the Commission reports that it is likely that some of the removed entries related to electors that were eligible to remain registered to vote.

On-going work to get people registered to vote

The 1 December registers represented a snapshot of the registers at that point. Since 1 December, 1.3 million applications to register to vote have been made, following the significant registration activity that continues to take place across the UK in advance of the important elections in May 2016.
The Electoral Commission is also running a national public awareness campaign supported by a range of partners, ahead of the 18 April registration deadline.  This includes TV, radio and digital advertising.
The campaign will reach all adults, with a focus on groups that the Commission's research has identified as being less likely to be registered to vote, such as students, young people, those who have recently moved home, people who rent their home, and people from some black and minority ethnic communities.

Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission, said:

"The registers published on 1 December 2015 are a snapshot of the electorate at that time, and they indicate there has been a reduction in the number of entries since the last registers were published under the household system.  

"However, a lot more has been done since then to ensure as many people as possible know that they need to register to vote before the deadline, and how they go about doing so.  It's quick and easy to register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote, and the Commission will continue to work hard, with our partners, to make sure electors know this given the significant elections taking place across the UK on 5 May."

Specific issues highlighted in the Commission's report include:

  • Attainers

The Commission reports that there remains an issue with the number of registered attainers (those who will have reached voting age during the life of the register). There were 276,185 attainers on the December 2015 parliamentary registers, which represents a fall of 40% in the number of registered attainers since February/March 2014.  This decline suggests that the requirement for attainers to register individually under IER, rather than be registered by a parent or guardian, is having a negative impact on the number registered.  The Commission sets out a number of options for reversing this decline in the report.

  •  Data collection issues

The Commission notes in its report that it encountered several issues in obtaining accurate register data and key headline statistics from Cabinet Office and Electoral Management Software (EMS) suppliers.  
The Commission specifically identified errors in the headline electorate figures for 1 December 2015 that were reported to Cabinet Office by customers of two of the software suppliers.  As a result, when quoting national electorate figures, the Commission has used the electorate statistics collected by the national statistical agencies as part of their official electoral statistics collection.

Performance standards

The Commission reports that, overall, the transition to IER in Great Britain has been managed well by EROs.  Assessments against Performance Standard 2, which requires that EROs deliver their strategies and use available data to monitor progress and make amendments to their plans where necessary to ensure they remain appropriate, have been impacted by the late receipt of data and therefore,  the process has not yet concluded.  However, the Commission has reached an assessment that one ERO, at the London Borough of Hackney Council, did not meet Performance Standard 2.  The final set of performance assessments will be made available in the summer.   

To read the report, click here.

Ends   

For further information contact:
Lisa Camps in the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704 or lcamps@electoralcommission.org.uk
Out of office hours 07789 920 414

Notes to editors

  1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UK's democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections and are responsible for the conduct and regulation of referendums held under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000).
  2. EROs were required by law to publish their revised register by 1 December 2015 except in cases where there was a by-election in their area during the period of the canvass (1 July – 1 December 2015), in which case the publication of the register could have been postponed until up to 1 February 2016.  
  3. The Electoral Commission will complete its planned programme of monitoring the transition to IER in summer 2016 when it will publish a report on the accuracy and completeness of the December 2015 registers.
  4. May 2016 will see elections to the Scottish Parliament; the National Assembly for Wales; the Mayor of London and London Assembly; Police and Crime Commissioner elections across England and Wales; and local government elections in many areas of England.
  5. Examples of the Electoral Commission's recent public awareness activity include a TV advertising partnership with Channel 4 and the producers of Hollyoaks, and holding an event at the Senedd in partnership with the National Assembly for Wales, NUS, NUS Cymru, Youth Cymru and Bite the Ballot as part of the National Voter Registration Drive.
  6. The transition to IER in Great Britain was originally scheduled to end with publication of the revised registers in December 2016.  Legislation allowed the UK Government to make an Order which would end the transition 12 months earlier, but the Commission recommended in June 2015 that Ministers should not bring forward the end of the transition because there was no accurate data available at that time to assess the impact of this decision.  However, the UK Government decided to make an Order which was agreed by parliament and the transition ended one year earlier that originally scheduled.
  7. For more information on the Performance Standards against which the Electoral Commission assesses EROs' activity, click here.

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