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Contact: Jessica Bolton
Councillor Roy Kennedy declared a personal interest as Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Voter Registration.
The Chair was pleased to note a number of electoral registration initiatives had been implemented since the last meeting of the Working Party, and Members were enthusiastic about ensuring the message continued to spread across the borough not just during the election period, but after it too.
The Head of Law commented that Bite the Ballot had been invited to the meeting but had been unable to attend. However, they had indicated that they were willing to attend a future meeting to provide an update to the Working Party.
It was requested by the Chair that another meeting of the Working Party be convened at the end of June 2015.
RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 22 January 2015 be confirmed and signed as a correct record.
The Working Party considered a report which provided an update on the implementation of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) and the Council wide initiatives undertaken to date and planned for the future to maximise registration in Lewisham.
The Working Party noted that in paragraph 3.3, the figure of 25% should be amended to read 2.5%.
The Head of Law commented that the Electoral Commission had recently published a report which highlighted that there were 920,000 fewer entries on the register as at 1 December 2014 compared to the February 2014 late canvass. Lewisham’s register declined by 3.4%, whilst figures collected by Local Authorities showed a fall of 150,132 in London’s register from 5,888,773 to 5,738,641, which was a 2.5% decline. The decline in the registers was blamed on a lack of comprehensive canvass in the autumn of 2014 which meant that home movers had not been captured as effectively as in the past.
The report submitted on IER in January 2015 to the Working Party indicated that the Borough’s unconfirmed (non IER registered) electors stood at just over 24,500 in an electorate of 189,000. Since February 2015 the unconfirmed electorate had fallen to approximately 19,500, while the register had increased by over 2,000. Furthermore, the Elections team had to delete some 4,000 electors who did not match with the DWP data, and where further follow ups indicated they were no longer resident.
Arising from the discussion, Members discussed the figures at Appendix B of the report. The Electoral Services Manager highlighted that there remained a number of wards that had over 10% of the electorate unmatched, and accordingly these were the areas that needed to be targeted. Some of the improvement in figures could be attributed to the statutory deletions (‘data cleansing’) that had been conducted over that period, which had been more pronounced in some wards than others.
Councillor Dromey queried how much the reduction in unconfirmed voters was down to ‘data cleansing’, and how much was down to the Council actively trying to get individuals registered. The Electoral Services Manager commented that the Council could not yet pinpoint the source of this information, but would have better knowledge after 1 April 2015.
The Chair noted that National Voter Registration Day had been co-ordinated by Bite the Ballot on 5 February 2015. The Head of Law commented that the Council had undertaken a number of initiatives that coincided in with the event.
The Working Party discussed an addendum which had been distributed during the meeting, which outlined how community and faith groups had been engaged with to encourage voter registration.
The Chair thanked the Elections team for the hard work they were undertaking during the election period.
Accordingly it was RESOLVED that:
the report be noted;
the next meeting of the Electoral Registration
Working Party be scheduled for June 2015; and
c) a report on under-registration across the UK be provided at the next meeting of the Working Party.
The Meeting closed at 9.07 p.m.