The Electoral Commission

The independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance in the UK

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Communications

Here you can find examples of good communications practice shared by local authorities.

  1. Key considerations
  2. Options
  3. Experiences of others
  4. Challenges
  5. Resources

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Key considerations

  • The main objective of your public engagement activity is to get residents to take action
  • Carefully considered communications that provide information in the way the audience prefers to receive it is more likely to have greater impact
  • There are a range of communication methods available – you should establish who your target audience is for your activity to determine how best to engage them to take action
  • Consider the timing of your activity and where your audience may be at that time, e.g. students starting university in September
  • Determining how you will evaluate the communications activity in the planning phase will help you to demonstrate its impact - you could use the GCS Evaluation Framework.


Options

  • You could include a link to the gov.uk/register-to-vote website as part of your email signature. You could include the Commission’s “Your vote matters, don’t lose it” logo and embed the link there
  • We produce resources and messaging for you to share to encourage registration in your area ahead of elections. Sign up to our Roll Call newsletter to be notified when these resources are available
  • Maximise your social media presence. Follow @ElectoralCommUK and @YourVote_UK and retweet our registration messages
  • Partner with local organisations that reach the communities you are trying to target – the audience will be much more receptive to messages from a source they already know
  • Make use of public spaces that you own. You can put up our registration posters in spaces such as public council buildings, libraries and community centres
  • Talk to your digital team to determine the most widely visited pages on your website and include messages on those pages that are relevant to the audience

Experiences of others

In advance of the May 2016 polls, the City of Lincoln Council issued a series of tweets using the hashtag #regafriend to promote registration and got partner organisations to do likewise:

An example of Lincoln City Council's use of the #regafriend hashtag on Twitter An example of a partner organisation of Lincoln Council using #regafriend

Mole Valley District Council and Oldham Borough Council utilised the loss avoidance theme of the Commission’s own messaging to promote registration:

Example of Twitter registration activity by Mole Valley council

Example of Oldham Council registration activity on Twitter

The London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames have set up an automatic response message on their generic email address so that whenever they are emailed, a response providing FAQs is sent automatically.

This covers common queries such as how to register, how to remove people from the register who no longer live at the address, changing opt-out status, etc.

This can be expanded upon at election time to provide key election deadline dates.


Challenges

  • Understanding your registration area – for example, what are the demographics, what proportion are not English speakers, and which communication methods work best?
  • Any activity that encourages registration will likely lead to increased engagement from the public, including applications from people who are already registered (duplicates) – you will need to be prepared to respond to this.

Have you thought about encouraging an application to register before you issue an ITR?

When you become aware of the name of a potential elector, you have a legal duty to issue an invitation to register within 28 calendar days. This gives you a 28-day window in which you can informally encourage an application, and if successful, you won’t need to go to the expense of completing the ITR process.

For example, if you have an email address for the potential elector, you could send them a link to the online application form and information about the available channels for registration.

We provide further guidance on encouraging an application to be made in Chapter 2 of Part 4: Maintaining the register throughout the year.


Resources

You can draw on our resources and templates for your communications. These have been designed with impact and accessibility in mind.

The Cabinet Office has also made available a range of democratic engagement resources for different groups of people and settings. They have been developed in collaboration with a number of national organisations.

Detailed guidance on reviewing and updating your public engagement strategy (XLS) and registration plan (XLS) is contained in Part 1: Planning for the delivery of electoral registration activity (PDF).

Electoral administrator