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Major campaign launched to support biggest change to voter registration in a century

Published: 3 Jul 2014

The Electoral Commission has today launched a major public awareness campaign to make sure everyone in England and Wales looks out for a letter from their Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) telling them how they are affected by the change to voter registration.

The majority of people (around 80%) who are registered to vote at the moment will transfer automatically to the new system. But some people will need to provide extra information – their National Insurance number and date of birth – and their letter will tell them how to do this.  You can provide the information online in a quick and easy process.

Anyone not currently registered to vote will also be encouraged to do so and EROs have plans in place for their local area to make sure as many people as possible are made aware of what they need to do.

To help make sure people respond to the letter they receive the Electoral Commission will be running advertising on TV, online and billboards in areas where it knows from its research that people are most likely to need to take action. The campaign runs from 3 July to 10 August in England and Wales.

Individual Electoral Registration (IER) is the biggest change to the electoral registration system in almost 100 years. It replaces the current system where one person in each household registers everyone to vote with a requirement to register individually. In addition, for the first time ever, people will be able to register online.

The change will come into effect in Scotland after 19 September following the referendum.

Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission, said: “The way we all register to vote is changing in England and Wales. It’s important everyone looks out for a letter from their local council that will tell you if you need to do anything. For the first time ever you can now also register online which makes it quick and easy to do. And if you want to find out more you can visit www.gov.uk/yourvotematters or call 0800 3 280 280.”

The Electoral Commission has provided materials it has tested with the public – including the forms and letters people receive - to Electoral Registration Officers to make sure they are as easy to understand and complete as possible. It has also issued guidance and set standards that it will be monitoring to ensure effective local public engagement plans are delivered by EROs.

At a national level the Electoral Commission is working with a wide range of organisations to help get as many people registered as possible. You can find out more about some of the organisations involved on the Commission’s website, including the National Union of Students, Citizens Advice and UpRising here

Commenting on the importance of Individual Electoral Registration, Jenny Watson added: “This change is something we’ve been calling for since 2003 and is an important step towards a more modern and secure electoral system. Online registration also helps organisations working with us and others run innovative and exciting voter registration drives that should appeal to young people in particular.” 

Anyone looking for further information should visit www.gov.uk/yourvotematters.


Click here to see the Electoral Commission’s TV advert.

Click here to see a poster of the Electoral Commission’s advertising campaign.

Electoral Commission spokespeople are available for interview.

Contact Karim Aziz in the Electoral Commission press office on 020 7271 0704 or press@electoralcommission.org.uk For requests from Wales, contact Rhydian Thomas on 0292 034 6804
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. For further information about the move to Individual Electoral Registration, see the Electoral Commission’s media briefing on the transition to IER
  3. Letters will be sent from EROs in England and Wales during July and August.
  4. No one will come off the electoral register because of this change until after the 2015 UK General Election.
  5. Legislation providing for the introduction of IER was first introduced by the last Government and was followed up by the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 that was introduced by the current Government.
  6. The move to Individual Electoral Registration in Scotland will begin on 19 September 2014, after the Scottish Independence Referendum.
  7. Under Individual Electoral Registration, anyone applying to be on the electoral register will now also need to provide their date of birth and National Insurance number. This will ensure that the register is more secure.