Electoral registration reform and degrees of centralisation

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Importantly, the work we conducted found that most of the reforms are feasible from a technical perspective and could (with the possible exception of systems designed to enable better detection and management of duplicates) be implemented without radically altering the structure of the electoral registration system in the UK. I

In particular, technology already employed by the IER Digital Service could form the building blocks for reforms including better use of data by EROs, automated/automatic registration and the integration of electoral registration into other public service transactions.

However, as part of the project, we also considered whether a centralised register, or system of joined-up electoral registers, would offer any additional benefits for electoral registration or electoral reform more broadly.

Although the Co-ordinated Online Record of Electors (CORE) was legislated for in 2006 by the Electoral Administration Act (intended to make it easier for political parties to verify the legitimacy of their donors), the provisions were never commenced and the project was abandoned in 2011.

We concluded that a greater degree of centralisation could offer some benefits, particularly in terms of simplifying the infrastructure needed to support reform. In addition, the combination of unique identifiers and some form of joined-up registers allowing EROs to compare information about entries across all 372 registers could reduce the risk of some electors voting more than once at a relevant election.

Reforms along these lines could also enable us to know how many people are actually registered twice (legally) and additionally provide the potential basis for any move towards different ways of voting in the future.

However, these potential benefits need to be balanced against the impact of further centralisation on the structure of electoral registration in the UK, including the potential loss of local knowledge about under-registered groups; and the security risks around the management of personal data.

Last updated: 26 July 2019
Next review: 25 July 2020