This report highlights the key findings from our engagement with EROs from July to September 2020, and also draws out some examples of good practice which have emerged.
This year’s annual electoral registration canvass in Great Britain is the first to be held under the new reformed canvass process. These changes were designed to give Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) more flexibility in how they approach the canvass and to enable them to focus their resources on those households where there is most likely to have been a change in composition.
Following national and local data matching:
- 73% of properties were allocated to Route 1 – the matched property route. This is the route EROs use to canvass properties where they are satisfied that there are no changes needed at that property and they have no reason to believe that there are any additional electors to be added.
- 26% of properties were allocated to Route 2, which is the route EROs use where they think changes are needed to the register.
In addition to enabling EROs to focus their resources on targeting those properties where changes are needed, the reformed canvass has also given EROs greater flexibility as to the channels they use to communicate with electors. This ability to use the likes of phone and e-mail has proved particularly beneficial in helping EROs to deliver the canvass against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, reducing the number of in-person visits that are required.
We will continue to engage with EROs and their teams over the remainder of the canvass and throughout the period leading up to the May 2021 elections, and will report on the findings from our engagement and an analysis of the data and information that has been collected, after the publication of the revised registers.
Brighton and Hove City Council: E-mail canvassing
Prior to this year’s canvass, Brighton and Hove City Council held e-mail addresses for around 105,000 of electors in their area, which amounted to 47% of their electorate.
To maximise the cost-saving opportunities of using emails to contact electors in Route 1 and Route 2, Brighton and Hove electoral services team worked closely with colleagues across their local authority to share data and increase their coverage of electors with e-mail addresses.
The Council has developed a customer index that pulls together and merges several databases. These included electoral registration, parking, housing and council tax teams. The ERO and Digital Transformation team were then able to produce a report containing e-mail addresses for everyone on the electoral register who appeared on the index for any service. This method succeeded in adding 35,000 email addresses, meaning Brighton and Hove’s ability to contact electors by e-mail rose to around 64%.
Lambeth: personal canvassing
Canvassers were given appropriate PPE and a written guidance leaflet produced in conjunction with their Public Health team. The use of tablet devices and of a metal, anti-microbial tool for pressing bells and knocking/opening doors have been instituted to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission, and canvassers have been instructed to maintain social distancing. The only contact points are calling cards posted through residents' doors if they are not at home.
The Council have also developed a written procedure for checking whether canvassers have potential COVID-19 symptoms and, where they do, they must follow the public health advice on self-isolation and testing, with the electoral services team reallocating visits as required.