Bristol’s annual voter registration canvass has begun with many thousands of letters being sent to homes across the city. These letters contain a form asking residents to check whether the information that appears on the electoral register matches that of those living at the address.
Residents are being asked to respond to the form – via online, phone, text or post – to confirm the correct details or report any changes.
The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote. By law, everyone who receives this form must respond to it, failure to do so could result in a £1000 fine.
For the last two years, the UK has been using a new registration system called Individual Electoral Registration (IER). In Bristol we’ve had a parliamentary, mayoral and two local elections as well as an election for our police and crime commissioner and a referendum since it was introduced. The new approach to registration puts the emphasis on the individual’s responsibility to register themselves as opposed to one person registering a household. In Bristol, there have been nearly 50,000 successful registration applications this year alone with just under 90% of these being done online.
Yvonne Dawes, Bristol City Council's head of electoral services, said: “We are currently writing to nearly 200,000 homes in the city with one simple, clear message – to vote you must be registered. It’s never been easier to register and I encourage everyone who receives this form to get in touch.
“Aside from being able to vote, the register is also critically important to a number of everyday situations that can have an impact on people’s lives. It is used for credit checks, making it tougher to get credit if you’re not on the register. That can affect your chances of getting a mortgage, a loan or even a phone contract.
“The council’s Electoral Services team are on hand to provide support to anyone wanting to know more about their options and the website contains a wealth of helpful information and advice.”
It’s particularly important that anyone who has moved address recently looks out for the form and checks whether they are registered.
Any residents who have any questions can contact the elections team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0117 922 3400. Alternatively visit www.bristol.gov.uk/annualcanvass for more information.