Make Sure You Are Registered to Vote

Posted on: 2nd February 2016

Make sure you are registered to vote is the message being given by Cornwall Council. This link will enable people to do this on-line: Voter Registration for Cornwall

With reports showing that more than 800,000 people across the UK have dropped off the electoral register since the introduction of changes to the system last year, Cornwall Council is backing the National Voter Registration Drive and is calling on people in Cornwall to make sure they are registered to vote.

Last year the Government introduced the new Individual Registration System which requires all householders to complete a household enquiry form to identify who is eligible to vote at the property.  Any potential new elector at the property is then sent an invitation to become individually registered to vote. This replaces the previous system which was based on the registration of electors by household.

In December 2015 there were 396,474 electors on Cornwall’s Electoral Register – the first to be published where a full canvass of all households has taken place since the introduction.  This number has now risen to 400,669 .

“The new Individual Electoral Registration system means that compiling the Register has become an even more complex, time-consuming and expensive process“ said Adam Paynter, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources.  “With the Police and Crime Commissioner elections taking place on 5 May, we want to ensure that as many people as possible in Cornwall have registered to vote and can have their say”.

In contrast to the previous annual canvass there is no single cut-off date for registering to vote which means applications to be added to the register can be processed throughout the year.  However all applications must be completed three weeks before an election takes place.

To help encourage people in Cornwall to register to vote the Council introduced an Interactive Voter Registration System enabling individuals to register electronically as well as by mail.   The authority has also sent a canvasser into Falmouth University Campus to encourage students to register.

However, despite continuing work by officers from the Council’s Electoral Services to encourage people to complete and return their individual registration forms, there are still 26,091 outstanding forms.  These include 1,058 new forms, 23,550 people who have received one reminder and 1,483 people who have now had two reminders.  The Council also has around 600 new applications to process.

Over the past few months the authority  has employed 168 household canvassers to visit properties where there has been no response to the Household Enquiry and the Invitation to Register forms.  The cost of employing the household canvassers has risen from about £60,000 to over £120,000 as a result of the move from the former registration to Individual Electoral Registration.

“Under the new system we are unable to make changes to the Register without the Invitation to Register Form being returned from each individual elector” said Adam Paynter.  “We had hoped that people in Cornwall would return the forms without the need to send numerous reminders and arranging for canvassers to visit their homes – all of which is a cost to the Council and, therefore, council tax payers in Cornwall. Unfortunately this has not been the case

 “While an additional 4,225 people have returned their forms since December, there are still almost 30,000 people who have not yet done so.

“I would urge anyone who has not yet returned their forms to the Council to do this as soon as possible to ensure they do not lose their ability to cast their vote.”