Residents to start receiving annual canvass communications

24 July 2020

This year’s canvass by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) to ensure the electoral register is up to date is about to start.

Local authorities are legally required to ensure the electoral register is up to date. SLDC will use this information to publish the Register of Electors on 1 December 2020.

The annual canvass is important because it means that the information the council holds about electors remains correct, to ensure everyone who is eligible to vote can do so. This involves checking every year to know if anyone who is eligible to register to vote has moved in or out of a property, for example, has turned 16 and is therefore old enough to register to vote and if any of the other information should be changed, for example, someone would like to vote by post from now on.

This year, the way we conduct the annual canvass has changed. In the past, every household had to respond to their form, even if the information was correct and had not changed. From now on, the majority of households will only need to respond if the information needs to be updated. If the information is correct, they won’t need to do anything.

In the next few weeks, residents will receive a canvass communication in the form of an email or letter. It will list the names of everyone we have registered to vote at the property and information such as their nationality and voting method. The email or letter will explain if the recipient needs to respond or not. Around 80 per cent of households will not need to respond unless there are changes to report.

SLDC, along with a handful of other local authorities, piloted this new approach in 2016 and 2017. The success of this pilot led to a countrywide reform of the annual canvass which gives Electoral Registration Officers greater flexibility to use data already held in determining how to communicate with electors.

Simon McVey, the council’s Electoral Registration Officer, said: “The new process is simpler and clearer for citizens to use, is less reliant on paper communications and will save the council money.

"If you need to respond, the quickest and easiest way to do this is by responding online, using the link and security numbers given in your email or letter.

"If you don’t use the internet you can respond by telephone. Your email or letter will tell you how to respond by text message, automated telephone or by calling our office."

If a name is added to a canvass response, we will invite them to register to vote. This can be done online in less than five minutes: register to vote. A paper registration form will be sent later in the canvass if the person doesn’t register online.

More information is available about the Annual canvass. This includes details about electoral registration and voting.

  • The Representation of the People Act 1983 places a duty on Electoral Registration Officers to maintain the electoral register for their area and to conduct an annual canvass of all residential properties. Simon McVey is the Electoral Registration Officer for South Lakeland.
  • 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 or checking credit applications.
  • 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 not affect your right to vote.
  • To be eligible to register to vote a person must be:
  • Aged 16 or over (a person may register to vote at 16, but may not vote until they are 18);
  • A British or qualifying Commonwealth citizen who has leave to enter and remain in the UK or does not require such leave;
  • A citizen of the Republic of Ireland or other European Union (EU) member state living in the UK.