AEA policy position: Delay in the publication of the revised register of electors

1. Introduction

This paper outlines the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) views about allowing for the publication of the revised register of electors to be delayed if the notice of election for any poll is published during the annual canvass period, regardless of whether the poll has been completed.


2. Background

2.1   Legislation

Following completion of the annual canvass, the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) is required to publish a revised version of their registers by 1 December (Sec 13(1) Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1983).

In the event of an election during the canvass period (defined as the period 1 July to 1 December), publication of the revised registers may be delayed up to the following 1 February (Sec 13(1A) RPA 1983).


3. Key issues

3.1 Election and canvass period

Legislation allows EROs to defer publication of the revised electoral register until no later than 1 February the following year where an entire election has taken place during the canvass period.  This requires both notice of election and polling day to fall during the canvass period, meaning polls scheduled immediately after the register is due to be published are not accounted for.

3.2 UK Parliamentary General election – 12 December 2019

The timing of the 2019 UK Parliamentary General election (UKPGE) caused significant challenges to the annual canvass. The election was called when EROs were busy encouraging electors to register and making preparations to publish the revised register.

Unless there had already been a by-election in the area, EROs had no option but to publish the revised register before the UKPGE. This requirement meant the poll was set up in one register year and run in another. This created significant technical challenges for not only EROs and Returning Officers, but also the electoral management software systems relied upon to run the polls. It brought increased risk to the UKPGE election and countless additional complexities for electoral administrators. These risks and challenges could have been avoided if EROs had been permitted to delay publication because the notice of election was published during the canvass period.


4. AEA policy position

We believe legislation should be amended to allow for the publication of the revised register of electors to be delayed if the notice of election for any poll is published during the annual canvass period.


5. Further information

The Association of Electoral Administrators was founded in 1987 and is the professional body representing the interests of electoral administrators in the United Kingdom. We are a non-governmental and non-partisan body with just over 2,000 members, the majority of whom are employed by local authorities to provide electoral registration and election services. Eleven regional branches of the Association cover the United Kingdom.

Further details on the legislative background connected to this policy position are available on request.

If you require any further information, please contact Angela Holden, AEA policy manager – or 07752 630497.

25 October 2021