Thursday, 11 August 2011

Pilot Project To Boost Voting

By Ben Aulakh

One Midlands council is taking part in a pilot project to improve the accuracy of its electoral register, by allowing data stored on it to be compared with public records and databases.

Stratford-on-Avon District Council is one of 22 selected local authorities to take part in a scheme to modernise the register, identify those missing from it, and minimise electoral fraud.

Last year the Government announced that from 2014 voters will be asked to register individually, if successful the model will then be rolled out across the rest of the country.

Local authorities taking part will be able to compare information stored on their registers with the records of the Department for Work and Pensions, Transport, Education, HM Revenue and Customs, Business, Innovation and Skills and the Ministry of Defence

The District Council's pilot is focusing the accuracy of data on the over 70s, those turning 18, and service voters across the District.

The project will also be paid for entirely by the government in Westminster.

These pilots will enable the Government and the Electoral Registration Officer to see how effective data matching is, plus which data sets are of most use to local authorities in improving the accuracy and completeness of the electoral register.

The main aims of the proposed system are to tackle under registration among specific groups, while at the same time ensuring that the electoral system is not vulnerable to fraud.

The District Council has already begun providing the relevant government departments with information from the electoral register to enable the matching to take place. 

If the matching of records identifies people on the register that are not found elsewhere, then the Electoral Registration Officer will be able to investigate whether those entries are legitimate.

Also if the process identifies people who are eligible to vote, who are not already on the register then the Electoral Registration Officer will offer them the opportunity to vote.

The pilots will be completed by November 30, once they are finished the data created for the purposes of the pilot schemes will be destroyed, except where it has been added to the electoral register. 

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