The Cabinet Office has this week released preliminary results from a data-matching ‘dry run’ of the switchover to the new Individual Electoral Registration (IER), which show that approximately 78 percent of voters won’t have to do anything to remain on the electoral roll.
IER will replace the Household Electoral Registration (HER) system in 2015 and will require that each person in a household register their details, rather than one person doing it for everyone in the household, which is the current approach.
It is hoped that the new voting system will make it safer and simpler to register, as HER had been vulnerable to fraud and errors. With the introduction of IER, it will also be the first time individuals can register online.
The government hopes that this will bring electoral registration into the “modern age”, where some people are currently getting lost in the system, such as those in shared housing and students.
"A lot of hard work and professionalism by local authorities, from chief executives through to electoral officers and administrators, has gone into making sure the switch to Individual Electoral Registration goes smoothly, and we can see that it is really starting to pay off,” said Chloe Smith, minister for political and constitutional reform.
“The switchover next year is a big change involving almost everybody in the country, and the Cabinet Office is determined to ensure we have the systems in place and the support available for local authorities to deliver a secure and efficient electoral registration system.”
She added: “The move to individual registration will mean a safe, secure electoral register, which is fit for the 21st century. No more outmoded registration by the ‘head of the household’, a concept which many people these days wouldn’t even recognise. It will be accompanied by online registration, which is no less than people expect in the internet age. The hard work now will be well worth it to create a register in which we can all have confidence.”
A national data-matching dry run for the new system tested to see how many people would have to re-register and how many would automatically be registered on IER. The Cabinet Office used voters’ records on the Electoral Register and matched it against public databases, such as those held by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), to verify individual registrations.
The initial analysis shows an average match rate of 78 percent nationwide, with a range between 47 percent and 87 percent. However, the department has said that these figures should be treated as indicative and final figures may see the match rates change slightly.
Local authorities have also been matching the Electoral Register against their locally-held databases, which the Cabinet Office believes could add between 0.2 percent and 12 percent to the match rate.