A Conversation for Voting in the UK - Your Voter Number

Corrections & Clarifications

Post 1


Good article, but as someone who works in an Electoral Registration office I would like to clarify a couple of points:

1) Electoral Numbers - these are usually allocated automaticalled by the software system used to maintain the register. Your electoral number will probably change from time to time as we need to renumber the register for technical reasons. This has no effect on your voting rights, but as the electoral register is also used for credit checks it may be worth noting that your original electoral number may change.

2) Canvassing - apart from the political parties at election time, your local Electoral Registration office also employs part-time workers called canvassers between September and December every year. Their job is to help us to complete the annual update of the Register, by delivering registration forms and then revisting addresses who haven't sent in a return. Their job is, of course, completely non-political. You should remember that it is a legal requirement to be on the Electoral Register (if eligible) and to complete your annual registration form, although you are not legally required to vote in any election if you do not want to.

3) Elegibility - many different categories of people are entitled to vote in British elections. Apart from British and Irish citizens, citizens of Commonwealth countries and European Union countries can register (although the latter can generally only vote in local elections unless they make special arrangements to vote in European Parliamentary elections). We even register citizens of countries which will be joining the EU next year, on a provisional basis.

4) Coloured Ballot Papers - these are only used when someone claims a vote in the name of someone who has apparently already voted. According to the instructions issued to Presiding Officers, drunk persons entering a polling station should be allowed to vote provided that they appear to know what they are there for, so they would receive a normal ballot paper. If the drunk person is from another area they would not be on the Electoral Register for that polling station and would not be provided with a ballot paper of any sort.

5) Misc - Before an election you should receive a polling card showing where and when to vote, but it is not necessary to take your polling card with you as it is not a form of identification. As long as your name is on the Electoral Register for the polling station you visit, you will be given a ballot paper as long as you positively identify yourself by stating your name and address.

The whole issue of postal voting (which will probably become more widespread in future), and its potential for electoral fraud, is another story entirely...

smiley - panda

Corrections & Clarifications

Post 2

Vestboy II not playing the Telegram Game at U726319

Thanks for your comments.

I understand what the guidelines may say about drunks voting but in reality an angry person who wants to put a cross on a piece of paper may not be willing to debate the finer points (and I do know of at least one polling station where this has happened whether they should have done it or not).

Could you clarify for me that the coloured votes are only looked into if the election is very close.

Corrections & Clarifications

Post 3


Sorry for delay in replying - I am travelling at the moment and haven't been online for a while.

Coloured ballot papers are only issued if someone turns up and it appears that they have already voted (the polling clerks cross off the names of everyone they issue a normal ballot paper to). If the the result is sufficiently close (after recounts) that the number of coloured ballot papers marked for one of the candidates would affect the OUTCOME of the election (i.e. a different candidate would be elected), the Presiding Officer along with the police would investigate each coloured ballot paper issued to ensure that nobody has voted twice.

(This is incredibly rare in practice and I've never seen it happen)

Hope this answers your question smiley - cheerssmiley - panda

Corrections & Clarifications

Post 4

Vestboy II not playing the Telegram Game at U726319

That's what I thought. Thanks for the clarification. I hope you enjoyed your travels.

Corrections & Clarifications

Post 5


What happens more often is the practice once prevalent in one particular province of the UK, which is the principle of "Vote early, vote often" turning up in place of non-voters.

Corrections & Clarifications

Post 6


It is illegal for party activists to ask anyone anything to with the election *before* the person has voted. They can ask what they like when someone has left the polling station. smiley - ok

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