Government expands national election database plans

The government is to broaden the scope of its project to create a national database of the information stored on electoral registers because of in an attempt to deal with concerns over data quality.

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The government is to broaden the scope of its project to create a national database of the information stored on electoral registers because of in an attempt to deal with concerns over data quality.

The Co-ordinated Online Record of Electors (CORE) project is aimed at providing a single source of electoral registration data for authorised users, drawn from all the local electoral registers. It is also part of the government’s strategy to strengthen the integrity of electoral registers and crack down on voting fraud.

It will allow electoral registration officers to cross-match data across local authority boundaries to pick up potential instances of fraud or other irregularities.

But a report on the results of the second phase of public consultation on the project highlights respondents’ concerns about the quality and completeness of the data held on local registers.

The report, published by the Department for Constitutional Affairs, says data quality issues – raised by a large number of respondents – were originally outside the scope off the CORE project, but adds: “In order to ensure that this issue was understood, the DCA conducted an investigation into data quality issues as part of the consultation process.”

The first phase of the CORE project was set to implement a standardised Election Markup Language, but not to cleanse data currently held on electoral registers. “The scope of the project has now been widened to include addressing data quality concerns,” the report says.

But the government is not planning to examine the impact of the national database on privacy. In answer to a parliamentary question from shadow constitutional affairs secretary Oliver Heald last month, junior minister Bridget Prentice replied that a privacy impact assessment had not been produced “as it is not expected that CORE will impact on individuals' privacy”.

The CORE information system would “mirror the information held on local registers and access will be subject to the same regulations as for access to the local registers”, she said.


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