Question to the Cabinet Office:
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord True on 3 September (HL Deb, col 500), what plans they have to ensure that electoral registration forms are designed as effectively as possible using standards of best practice to increase the rate of return; and what steps they are taking to ensure that such forms, and any accompanying letters, consistently draw prominent attention to the legal requirements to comply with the registration process with reference to the appropriate maximum fines or penalties.
Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) have the statutory responsibility for maintaining complete and accurate registers for their areas. The Government’s role is to ensure EROs have the tools they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. This includes, for example, the recent changes to the annual canvass in Great Britain which will improve its overall efficiency considerably which will allow EROs to focus their efforts on hard to reach groups, and play an important role in helping to maintain register accuracy and completeness.
As it stands, National Insurance Number letters issued by HM Revenue and Customs state that you need your National Insurance Number to register to vote. Cabinet Office officials are in discussions with colleagues in HMRC regarding what further information could be included to help inform individuals about the registration process, and if it may be clarified.
The Government is committed to making registration as easy as possible and we encourage everyone who is eligible to register to vote.
Responsibility for the design of electoral registration forms, including the Invitation to Register form and all Canvass Communications lies with the Electoral Commission, with the Government providing final approval. The Electoral Commission undertakes extensive user testing of the forms to ensure they are as effective as possible at eliciting the appropriate response. Cabinet Office officials are regularly consulted by the Electoral Commission during the design stages of any new forms and also when changes are proposed to existing forms.