Running electoral registration - England

Methods of local data matching

Methods of local data matching


Manual data matching is likely to be the main form of data matching used for verification. 

It involves visually checking records from a local data source against the electoral register. There may be cost implications for both staff resources and the time it takes to deal with large volumes of data. 

However, manual data matching allows you to interpret and make a judgement on complex data, for example written notes attached to a council tax record, which may mean you get a more accurate result. 

Manual data matching would also be suited to dealing with small scale local data sources, such as the lists of recently deceased persons provided by Registrars. 


Automated data matching is the use of a computer programme or algorithm to match two or more sets of data, for example the local data source and a list of applications, against one another to produce a list of matches and mismatches. This form of matching is suited to matching large volumes of records. 

It may be useful for verification where a number of applications are to be verified at the same time, for example during the canvass or a pre-election period when a large volume of applications are being received. 

This form of matching does not require a person to check every record, but you should ensure that matching software and/or algorithms are thoroughly tested before being used. 

You should examine what capacity for undertaking this kind of work already exists within your local authority, for example, a local authority may be matching benefits data against other data sets to prevent and detect fraud. 

Automated matching would still require an element of decision making by you to ensure that matching undertaken is to the expected standard and to resolve queries.

There are a variety of sources that may be able to provide you with automated data matching capability. Your authority may have the capacity to develop new processes or adapt existing processes to achieve this, and there are also a number of private companies who offer data matching services. If you are considering carrying out automated data matching for verification purposes, you should investigate all possibilities to achieve a cost effective solution. 

If you choose to outsource any local data matching activities, to either a private company or another part of their local authority, you should ensure that whoever is conducting the data matching, they are fully aware of both data protection legislation and the rules governing supply of the electoral register.

Last updated: 24 August 2020