Running electoral registration - England

Checking the applicant’s qualification to register under the previously registered condition

For an applicant to qualify to register under this condition they must have been previously registered to vote in the UK and are required to provide the address at which they were last registered. This is in addition to the need to verify the applicant’s identity.

You must be satisfied that the applicant was previously registered at the address they have provided.1 In most instances, this will involve checking previous registers where these are held, either digitally or in hard copy. Retaining historical registers for as long as is practicable will assist you with undertaking such checks of applicants’ previous registration.

Checking electoral registers

The applicant will have provided a date that they were last registered as part of their declaration. 

If an applicant has recently moved overseas the current register can be checked to find their registration entry. However, if an applicant left the UK some time ago, and you hold historical registers in an easily accessible format or location, you should check whether the applicant was on the relevant register.

An applicant’s declaration may contain other information that can assist you to locate their previous registration. For example, if the applicant was last registered as an overseas elector, service voter or via a declaration of local connection, they may be listed in a distinct part of the register.

Information that an applicant has changed their name since they were last registered may also assist you in identifying the previous registration of the applicant more easily.

You should check registers either side of the date the applicant claims they were last registered, to cover the possibility that the applicant may have supplied the wrong date.

If you cannot find the applicant’s entry, you cannot confirm that they were previously registered. You should consider this as evidence that the person has applied in respect of an address at which they are not entitled to register, on the basis of the previously registered condition, and reject the application on that basis. 

You should consider how accessible older copies of the register are, especially those that are from before the 15-year period relevant to the previous overseas elector registration rules.

When is it not feasible to use electoral registers to check an applicant’s qualification to register under the previously registered condition?

It may not always be feasible to check electoral registers, for example:

  • the applicant left the UK a long time ago and you are unable to access the relevant register or you no longer hold it because it is stored offsite and/or archived or it is held outside the EMS in an inaccessible format
  • if the time and/or cost of doing so would significantly affect the ERO’s ability to complete other duties which may adversely impact other applicants and electors

Next steps if you are unable to use electoral registers to check an applicant’s qualification under the previously registered condition

You should not take a decision to reject an application based solely on a register check not being feasible.

If you are unable to check electoral registers, you can choose to use other information available to you to assist you in being satisfied that the applicant meets the previously registered condition.

These include:

If, after you have carried out the checks of other information available, you remain unable to be satisfied that the applicant meets the previously registered condition, you can choose to either:

  • review your decision relating to the feasibility of checking electoral registers 
  • reject the application 
  • consider any exceptional circumstances

There may be exceptional circumstances where an applicant is unable to provide you with documentary evidence to support their application and is also unable to provide an attestation. 

In these circumstances, you should ask the applicant for an explanation as to the specific reasons why they are unable to provide you with the evidence or attestation. If you are satisfied with the explanation given, you may consider the information included in an applicant’s declaration is sufficient evidence that they meet the previously registered condition, given that you have attempted, but been unable to, obtain either documentary evidence or an attestation from the applicant.

You should be sure you have taken all the steps available to you before taking a decision to reject an application. 

Diweddarwyd ddiwethaf: 13 Rhagfyr 2023