What should be included in a household notification letter?

What should be included in a household notification letter?

Neither the design nor the content of the household notification letter is prescribed, but you should ensure that the letter is easy to understand, with a clear explanation of what action, if any, householders need to take. 

The household notification letter falls outside the statutory framework; no response is required to be provided, there is no penalty for not responding and you are not legally required to carry out any follow-up processes. 

We have produced a template letter that you can use.

The template has been kept simple to ensure that the key messages are communicated clearly. If you decide to produce your own letter, it should include: 

  • information on why the letter is being sent
  • the names of all electors registered at the address
  • what the recipient should do if any information on the letter is incorrect or if someone who lives at the address is not registered
  • Your vote matters – don’t lose it branding
  • frequently asked questions
  • data protection messaging

Where sending household notification letters, you should also consider how to prompt registration applications to be made, reducing the need to give formal invitations to register. You should emphasise the option to apply to register online, by telephone or in-person (if you offer these services), as well as giving information on how paper application forms are obtained. 

In some instances it may be appropriate to include paper application forms with your household notification letter – for example, ahead of a registration deadline. 

The simpler the letter, the clearer the call to action, and the more likely it is that you will get a response. In general terms, there is a risk that additional information may confuse electors and dealing with their questions may draw resources away from registering new electors ahead of the scheduled polls

In deciding whether to add additional information to the letter, you should consider the risks and how you would mitigate these. You will also need to check that your software is capable of enabling you to include any additional data on the letter. Additional information also means potentially having to tailor the letter to particular audiences, which creates its own series of risks and challenges.

Additional information – and some of the risks which would need to be managed – could include:

  • Franchise - this makes clear to the elector which elections they are entitled to vote at. For example, a UK Parliamentary election and/or any local (or other) elections happening on that day. However, this may be a difficult message to convey in a simple way, especially in households where the individuals have different franchises. 
  • Information on registration deadlines for upcoming elections - our experience from user testing messages suggests that this type of information is most effective when the call to action is closely linked to the message, for example, where the deadline is close to the request to register. Where the deadline is a few weeks or months away there is a risk that those who receive the letter will not take action. Reference to registration deadlines could also confuse those who are already registered resulting in duplicate applications. 
  • Open register preference - open register information is not directly relevant to an upcoming election. The questions this could generate may divert resources away from registering electors.

Envelopes

Our experience of user testing registration materials has shown that people are more likely to open an envelope if it looks official and is brown in colour. You can increase your chances of the envelope being opened by including text that emphasises the importance of the communication: e.g. ‘IMPORTANT INFORMATION ENCLOSED’.

Commission public awareness campaigns will use the ‘Your vote matters – don’t lose it’ branding. Reflecting this on the envelope will increase recognition and tie in any national registration message with your local one.

Diweddarwyd ddiwethaf: 26 Awst 2020