You must be on the electoral register to vote in an election or referendum.
We ask you to check your details on the electoral register each year in the autumn months. We call this the annual canvass.
There are 2 types of register
- the electoral register (sometimes called the register of electors or full register)
- the open register (sometimes called the edited register)
The electoral register
The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections.
The register is used for electoral purposes – such as making sure only eligible people can vote – and for other limited purposes specified in law. The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data-protection legislation.
Uses of the electoral register
- Election staff, political parties, candidates and holders of elected office use the register for electoral purposes.
- Your local council and the British Library hold copies that anyone may look at under supervision. A copy is also held by the EC, The Boundary Commissions (which set constituency boundaries for most elections) and the Office for National Statistics.
- The council can use the register for duties relating to security, enforcing the law and preventing crime. The police and the security services can also use it for law enforcement.
- The register is used when calling people for jury service.
- Government departments may buy the register from local registration officers and use it to help prevent and detect crime. They can also use it to safeguard national security by checking the background of job applications and employees.
- Credit reference agencies can buy the register. They help other organisations to check the names and addresses of people applying for credit. They also use it to carry out identity checks when trying to prevent and detect money laundering.
It is a criminal offence for anyone to supply or use the register for anything else.
The open register or edited register
The open register is an extract of the electoral register but is not used for elections. Any person, company or organisation can buy the open register. The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data protection legislation.
Users of the open register
Users of the open register include:
- businesses checking the identity and address details of people who apply for their services such as insurance, goods hire and property rental, and online shopping
- businesses selling age-restricted goods or services, such as alcohol and gambling online, to meet the rules on verifying the age of their customers
- charities and voluntary agencies, for example to help maintain contact information for those who have chosen to donate bone marrow and to help people separated by adoption to find each other
- charities to help with fund raising and contacting people who have made donations
- debt collection agencies when tracing people who have changed address without telling their creditors
- direct marketing firms when maintaining their mailing lists
- landlords and letting agents when checking the identity of potential tenants
- local councils when identifying and contacting residents
- online directory firms to help users of the websites find people such as when reuniting friends and families
- organisations tracing and identifying beneficiaries of wills, pensions and insurance policies
- private sector firms to verify details of job applications
Opting out of the open register
Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.
You can ask for your details to be removed from the open register
Viewing the electoral register
In order to vote your name must be included on the electoral register or 'register of electors'.
The full register is available for inspection. To find out if you are on the electoral register email electoral information or phone Elections helpline 0300 123 5016.
The electoral register cannot be viewed online. You can see the electoral register under supervision during office hours at council buildings in Cheshire East.
Page last reviewed: 01 November 2021
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