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Why we have contacted you

The law states that we must keep the Electoral Register up to date, and one of the ways we do this is by contacting all households in the area and asking the people who live there to confirm if the information we have about the household is correct.

This process is called the 'annual canvass' and it allows us to update the Register of Electors.

We do this by:

  • beginning the process of removing anyone who has moved out
  • inviting any eligible people who aren't registered to vote to do so
  • changing the information about the people living there, for example, by arranging a postal vote for them.

The canvass will begin in July and will end in November, just before we publish the Register on 1 December 2018.

Household enquiry form

You should receive a household enquiry form (HEF) in August. It will list the following information about the people we currently have registered to vote at your address:

  • their names
  • if they are aged 76 or over, we ask for this information because the jury service uses the Electoral Register to summon jurors and the age limits to serve on a jury are 18 to 75
  • their nationality
  • whether they have a postal or proxy vote
  • whether they're included on the Open Register

We need to know if anyone (who is eligible to register to vote) has moved in or out, has become old enough to register to vote (16), and if any of the other information should be changed, for example, someone would like to vote by post from now on.

Respond to your HEF online

You're legally required to provide the information we have requested, even if nothing has changed.

Please respond as soon as you can to avoid being sent reminder forms. If we don't get a response, a canvasser may visit your home to help you complete your HEF later in the canvass.

We are required by law to run the annual canvass. We must: 

  • send a HEF to every household
  • send reminder forms if we don't receive a response
  • send canvassers to visit homes where we haven't had a response
  • use the wording given to us for our forms and letters

Invitation to register forms

If you, or anyone else in your household is added to a HEF, we must contact you and invite you to register to vote.

You can either wait for us to send you a paper registration form (an 'invitation to register' (ITR)) through the post, or you can register to vote online

The HEF and the ITR are two different forms and you must complete both to complete your registration.

If you add yourself to a property using the online HEF response service, the system will give you the option of entering your basic details or full details (including your National Insurance number). If you select basic, we'll send you an ITR by post or email. If you enter your full details however, the system will register you at the same time and we won't need to send you an ITR.  

If you aren't registered, you can't vote. It may also make it more difficult for you to get credit for things such as a mobile phone contract, mortgage or credit card.

Reminder forms

If we don't receive a response to your HEF or ITR we'll send reminder forms.

You may receive a reminder even though you have already responded to one sort of form. This is usually because:

  • there has been a cross over between us sending your information to our printers and Royal Mail, and you responding. We send thousands of forms and letters during the annual canvass, so we have to send the information to the printer a week or so in advance and we can't change this information once it has been sent
  • the reminder is for a different form, an ITR, not your HEF. We've had a HEF response for your household and your name has been added to the property, so we've written to you again to complete your registration. The two forms are separate and you need to complete both.

If you'd like to check if we have received your response, you can call us on 01539 733 333 or contact us by email:

Other forms and letters we send during the annual canvass

Open Register letters and emails

Your HEF will state whether or not you're on the Open Register.

Electoral registration is an individual matter, so we can't make Open Register changes for people without their permission. If you completed the HEF and changed your Open Register preference, we'll update that right away, but if someone else filled in the form we'll contact you and ask for your permission first.

If we've sent an email, please complete the form attached to your email and send it to the email or postal address in the message.

If we've sent a letter, you can respond by writing to us at Electoral Services, South Lakeland House, Lowther Street, LA9 4DQ or by email: Please state if you would like to be on the Open Register or not and include your name and address. Alternatively, you can contact us by telephone on 01539 733 333.

You don't need to give a reason for opting out of the Open Register and removing your name doesn't affect your right to vote.

Postal and proxy vote application forms

Your HEF will state whether you're registered to vote in person, by post or by proxy.

If you (or someone else in your household) changes your preferred voting method on your HEF, we must contact you again. If your details are changed to:

  • a postal vote, we'll send you an application form in the post to complete and sign
  • a proxy vote, we'll write to you with details of where you can download the application forms. There are several versions, so please contact us on 01539 733 333 if you are unsure which to use and we'll send you a paper form
  • back to voting in person, we'll contact you and ask you to confirm this in writing. Please include your name, address and a short message stating that you wish to vote in person from now on. You can write to us at Electoral Services, South Lakeland House, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 4DQ or by email:

Changing your voting method on your HEF doesn't automatically mean you have a postal or proxy vote. You must fill out an application form too.