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Registering to vote FAQs

Last Modified February 16, 2024

Why do I need to register?

You need to register so that you can vote in an election as well as obtain credit on your credit report. You can add your name to the register at any time throughout the year.

How long does it take to register?

The register is updated on a monthly basis, but it can take up to seven weeks for your name to appear on the register. The register is usually published on the first working day of each month, although additional updates are made in the lead up to elections.

When you apply to register, your information is sent to the Government Digital Service to be verified. If there are problems verifying your registration we may contact you to ask for further information. Once your application has been verified we will add you to our list of new applications. Any elector can then object to your name being added to the electoral register. If this happens we will write to you. If there is no objection we will change your details within seven weeks of receiving your form and this will be confirmed in writing to you.

The rules are slightly different in the run up to an election however, and you can register up to 12 working days before polling day.

What is the Electoral Registration Office?

The Electoral Registration Office carries out the statutory function of preparing and publishing the Register of Electors for Hertsmere.

Its functions are governed by various laws, principally the Local Government Act 1972 and the Representation of the People Act 1983.

For electoral purposes Hertsmere is divided into 16 wards, which are further sub-divided into 54 polling districts.

How is my registration checked?

Registration applications are checked against government records.

The Electoral Registration & Administration Act 2013 introduced a system of individual registration on 10 June 2014 designed, in part, to prevent electoral fraud by verifying that applicants are who they say they are. This is done by checking applications to register against existing government records.

Why have I been asked to provide my national insurance number and date of birth?

We now have to check all registered electors against existing government records to confirm they exist and prevent voter fraud. Your National Insurance number and date of birth will allow us to match your details to government records. We have to do this for all electors regardless of how long they have been registered.

Why have my details not matched?

The details on your electoral registration application must match those held by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). It is possible that these records are out of date, particularly if you have changed your name in the past. Not providing your National Insurance number or mis-typing your details are common reasons for your details not matching DWP records.

Why have I been asked to provide documentary evidence of my identity?

If we are unable to match the information on your application to the records held by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), we will still need to confirm your identity. The easiest way to do this is to provide an eligible copy of your passport or driving licence, but there are many different documents we can accept, as stated on the letter or email.

What happens if I do not provide documentary evidence of my identity when asked to?

To complete your registration, we need to confirm your identity. Without eligible documentary evidence, we are unable to do that and your application will be rejected as you will not be able to go onto the electoral register.

What do I do if I need to change my details or my households details on the electoral register?

If you need to update your electoral registration (such as your name, address or nationality), you will need to complete the government online registration form.

If there is someone who no longer lives at the address, you can help us remove them by emailing elections@hertsmere.gov.uk. Alternatively, if it is the time of the annual canvass, you can cross out those names on your canvass form and return in the post.

What if I am homeless or living in temporary accommodation?

If you are homeless or living in temporary or long-term hostel accommodation, you are still entitled to vote, providing you are eligible.

There are two ways of doing this depending on your situation. If you have lived, and will be living, in relatively stable accommodation for a year or longer it is possible to register in the usual way. 

If your situation is less stable, for example if you are sleeping rough or in short-term emergency accommodation, you can register to vote by declaration of local connection. This means that you can register at any location where you spend a large proportion of your time. This can be a day centre, a doorway, a project base, shop or café, etc.

You will need to complete a form, available from our offices, and return it to us. This registration will last for up to a year and will need to be renewed every year. You need to provide an address where you can collect mail, or alternatively, you can collect it from us.

Can I register anonymously?

The law allows you to be able to register anonymously if you would be at risk of danger if your name and address were to appear in the register of electors.

This means that only an electoral number would be shown in the register under a separate section. All electoral documents would be treated in strict confidence and not available to the general public. Application forms and further information can be obtained from us. This also applies to any person living in the same household as another person who is at risk.

Who can view the electoral register?

There two registers; the electoral register and the open register (also known as the edited register).

The Electoral Register

The Electoral Register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. The register is used for electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as: detecting crime (e.g. fraud), calling people for jury service and checking credit applications. It can be viewed by anyone, under supervision, at the civic offices.

The Open Register

The Open Register is an extract of the Electoral Register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the Open Register does no affect your right to vote.

If you wish to opt out of the open register please email elections@hertsmere.gov.uk. You will need to include your name and address and a request to not be included on the open register. If you are contacting us on behalf of other members of your household you must confirm that you have their permission to do so.

You can find more information about both registers and how they may be used at on our open register page or at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

If you wish to view the full register, please email elections@hertsmere.gov.uk to make an appointment.

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