Running electoral registration - England

Inspection of marked registers, marked absent voter lists and other election documentation

Inspection of marked registers, marked absent voter lists and other election documentation

Any person may inspect the marked register and any notices amending it, plus the marked copies of the list of postal voters, the list of proxies, and the list of proxy postal voters and such other documents relating to an election as you are required to retain, except ballot papers, completed corresponding number lists, certificates as to employment on the day of the election, and the list of ballot papers rejected under the verification procedure.1  

Any person wanting to inspect the marked register or absent voters list must apply in writing and must state:2  

  • which register or document they wish to inspect
  • whether they wish to inspect a printed or data copy (where appropriate)
  • the purposes for which any information will be used
  • where the request concerns the marked register or lists, why inspection of the full register or unmarked lists would not be sufficient to achieve the purpose
  • who will be inspecting the documents, and 
  • the date on which they wish to make the inspection

You may refuse to allow inspection of these documents if you are satisfied that the purposes of the requestor can be met by inspection of the full register, in which case you must inform the requestor of this decision and provide information concerning the availability of the full register for inspection.3 Otherwise, the documents must be made available within 10 days of receipt of the application. You must arrange for them to be inspected under supervision.4 Inspection can take place anywhere you choose.
 
Those inspecting the documents can make copies of the registers and lists using handwritten notes only.5
 
The same safeguards apply regarding the supervision and protection of the information as apply with the inspection of the full register

The Security Service, Government Communications Headquarters, and Secret Intelligence Service are entitled to a free copy of any of the above documents on request. The police (including the National Crime Agency) are entitled to free copies of any of these documents on request if they have inspected them.6  

Use of voter ID data on and after polling day

We have produced a guidance note for ROs and EROs which outlines the legal requirements for the collation and sharing of data collected in polling stations relating to the operation of the new voter ID requirements. Some of this data may only be shared with the UK Government and Electoral Commission because of specific legislative restrictions, but some may be shared more widely. This note aims to support ROs and EROs to make decisions on how and when to share data locally.

Further guidance on the ballot paper refusal lists and voter identification evaluation forms can also be found below.

Ballot paper refusal lists (BPRLs)

The ERO has responsibility for retaining the BPRLs once received from the Returning Officer. You may only disclose information from the BPRL to the elector, whose ballot paper was refused, or in the case of a proxy being refused a ballot paper, the person acting as proxy or the elector on whose behalf they were acting as a proxy.7

Voter identification evaluation forms (VIDEF)

After taking receipt of the polling station VIDEFs, you must, as soon as practicable, anonymise the data contained on them (for example, by destroying any related VIDEF notes sheets, or by removing any elector details recorded on the VIDEF for the purpose of capturing any of the required data).

You must also collate the data from the VIDEFs into two separate groups:8

  • one group providing total figures for all polling stations where voters were given an explanation of the photographic ID requirement before they applied for a ballot paper (e.g. where staff were appointed to greet voters and explain the requirements as they entered the polling station)
  • one group providing total figures for all polling stations where voters were not given an explanation of the photographic ID requirement

You must submit the data to the Secretary of State and the Electoral Commission (if requested to do so).9

The anonymised, collated data from the polling station VIDEFs is not open for inspection, and you must not disclose this information to anyone apart from the statutory duty to share information with the Secretary of State and the Electoral Commission (if requested to do so).10

The polling station VIDEFs must be retained for 10 years, in an anonymised format.11  To achieve this, you must ensure that any related VIDEF notes sheets are destroyed, or that you have removed any elector details recorded on the VIDEF for the purpose of capturing any of the required data.

Data will be collected using the VIDEF and VIDEF notes sheets for the first two parliamentary general elections. Additionally, it will be collected for the first ordinary election of councillors for local government in England after the provisions come into force. If the first ordinary election of councillors is combined with a parliamentary general election, the data will be required to be collected for the subsequent ordinary election of councillors.12

Following a scheduled election we will update you on the process for providing the required anonymised and collated information to the Electoral Commission through our Bulletin.

Last updated: 19 April 2023