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Databases opened to aid vote registers

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 A measure to tighten up the accuracy of electoral registers is to be piloted in 22 council areas.

This will allow electoral registration officers to compare their data with registers held by other public bodies.

People who show up on these but are absent from the electoral register will be asked to apply for inclusion.

Conversely, those who appear improperly registered for voting can be investigated.

The pilots are a step towards the introduction of individual voter registration in 2014, to combat the opportunities for fraud given the present system of registration by heads of households.

Political and constitutional reform minister Mark Harper (Con) said: “We want to make sure the electoral register is more accurate and complete, both by making sure everyone who is eligible to register has the full opportunity to do so but also by tackling fraud and making sure names that shouldn’t be there are removed.”

Databases newly available to registration officers in pilot areas will include those of Whitehall departments and HM Revenue & Customs.

John Turner, chief executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators, said: “It will allow people to check names and make the register more comprehensive but until this idea is piloted we don’t know if it will work.

“The timetable for individual registration is in place, it is a matter of the government getting the legislation through.”

The pilot councils are:  Blackpool BC, Camden LBC; Cardiff City Council, Colchester BC; East Renfrewshire Council, East Lothian Council, Edinburgh City Council, Forest Heath DC, Forest of Dean DC, Glasgow City Council, Greenwich LBC, Inverclyde Council, Manchester City Council, Midlothian Council, Newham LBC, Renfrewshire Council, Rushmoor BC; Shropshire Council, Southwark LBC, Stratford-on-Avon DC, Sunderland City Council, Teignbridge DC, Tower Hamlets LBC, West Lothian Council, Wigan MBC, Wiltshire Council, Wolverhampton City Council.

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