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Old 04-25-2016, 02:37 AM
PatrickLondon PatrickLondon is offline
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: London
Posts: 2,449
Originally Posted by bob++ View Post
Registering as a voter is voluntary in the UK.
Until recently, the registers were kept by having one form per household to fill in every autumn, and I understood that there was a legal obligation on the person filling in for the household to register everyone eligible to vote (not that I ever heard of anyone being prosecuted for not doing so). Then it switched to every individual having to register themselves (there had been some concern about the possibility of people adding fake or multiple identities to their households), which more or less makes registration voluntary.

But there is a legal obligation on the local authority to maintain an up-to-date and accurate register, bolstered by requirements to canvass all households to check (and the fact that their supplementary funding from the government to cover local services is linked to the numbers of people registered).

We've had battles in the past over registering expatriates living overseas, a Tory government allowing them to stay registered for 20 years outside the country, and the Labour government replacing them cutting this to ?5 years; but otherwise I don't think there's much manoeuvring for party advantage in the registration system, since it's all supervised by the independent Electoral Commission and carried out by professional local civil servants. You don't have to provide ID when you vote, though you are sent a reminder card to tell you where and when you can vote, and this gives the polling station clerks your registration number and the rest of it; "personation" has been known to occur, but it's difficult to organise it effectively in sufficient numbers to have much significant effect on results.