WHEN I am out canvassing at election time, I sometimes find voters who have missed the deadline to register to vote and regret that they cannot participate in any way.
So this is a timely reminder well clear of election season that to be eligible to vote you do need to register. Sometimes people mysteriously “drop off” the electoral register and are surprised to find they are no longer getting polling cards as they used to. It is important to remember that no one is automatically entitled to vote which many people forget - paying council tax or having voted before doesn’t mean that you’re registered to vote.
Electoral Registration Officers for the Council will be sending forms to households in the Borough over the Autumn to compile a new electoral register that will be the basis for next year’s elections, including the local elections in May and the General Election, whenever that may come. The Council will ask the household members to sign a declaration for how many people who are eligible to vote live at the property – you just need to check, confirm or update the details and return the form. The new register will be published around the beginning of December.
These registers have been the subject of some controversy as in previous elections some councils were found to have people on the register who did not exist. So now councils are meticulous about cleaning their registers, which means if you do not sign the declaration, you may be struck off.
The other thing which prevents people voting is failure to make arrangements for when they will be away and since elections are often held in a month with two bank holidays, this is relevant. You can have a postal vote which you sign before you go or a proxy vote where you nominate someone to sign for you. The postal votes are not posted out till a week or so before the election so if you think you might be away a proxy is safer. Business people who travel a lot and at short notice often have a permanent postal or proxy vote. For both postal and proxy votes, you will need to apply to the Electoral Registration Office to receive an application to fill out. To do this, or if you have any queries, do call the Electoral Registration Office on 0121 704 6042.