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Canvassers hit the streets to register Hounslow voters
The London Borough of Hounslow's annual electoral canvass continues over the next four weeks (22 October until 16 November) with volunteers knocking on the doors of approximately 30,000 properties across the borough.
The canvassers are checking the details of people listed as living at an address and will also be encouraging people to add themselves to the electoral register if they are not already registered.
All local authorities are responsible for maintaining electoral registers and ensuring they are as accurate as possible. Electoral registers list the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections.
It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as detecting crime (e.g. fraud), calling people for jury service and checking credit applications.
HOPE not Hate are looking for help to set up community based voter registration initiatives (visit www.hopenothate.org.uk/vrdrive/ for more details). They comment "The government is seeking to take 1.9 million voters off the electoral register. This is on top of an estimated 8 million already missing.
"The change will hit urban inner city areas hard, it will hit students, young people, people form certain ethnic minorities and it will hit those living in private rented accommodation. Given that these demographics are less likely to vote for the current government, this will provide a huge electoral advantage, not just in 2020, but also, crucially in the London Mayoral and Assembly elections, as well as the Welsh and Scottish Assembly Elections in 2016".
There is an Early Day Motion EDM333 which can force a debate in the Commons if enough MPs sign it. In April, the new voting register will be used to work out new constituency boundaries for the 2020 election. Anyone who is removed from the register in December won’t be counted. Unlock Democracy have a campaign to ask your MP to sign EDM333.
Every year a canvass is carried out as part of the work to ensure that the electoral register is up to date. The canvass started in Hounslow during the summer, when Household Enquiry Forms were sent out to all Hounslow addresses.
Household Enquiry Forms list who is on the electoral register at an address and asks someone at the address to confirm the information on the form is correct, or make any changes, for example where people have moved in or out of an address, or where names have changed.
Replying to a Household Enquiry Form is a legal requirement and failure to reply can result in a £1,000 fine.
Over the summer Invitation to Register to Vote forms were also issued. These forms are sent out to individual people who councils believe are eligible to vote but are either not on the register because, for example, they have recently moved into a borough or district – or they have not been re-registered after the change to the new voter registration system which was introduced last summer.
An £80 fine can be issued for not replying to an Invitation to Register to Vote.
The Hounslow canvassers will be out in all weathers over the next few weeks knocking on the doors of properties where there has been no response to numerous requests from the council for information about who lives at the property, or where people have not responded to Invitations to Register to vote.
The canvassers have all received thorough training and will be wearing London Borough of Hounslow high-vis jackets to make them more visible now the clocks have gone back. They will also show council-issued identification badges every time anyone opens a door to them.
Canvassers have also been given important information in the most commonly spoken and emerging languages in the borough to help with responses.
Elections Manager for Hounslow Council, Cassie Triggs said people would only need to spend a few minutes on the doorstep with the canvassers, she said: “If you’re visited by a canvasser, they’ll only need a few minutes of your time and by helping them complete the necessary forms, you’ll avoid facing what could be a hefty fine.
“If a canvasser calls round at an inconvenient time, you can ask them to come back when it's easier for you, but you can only do this a few times before we’ll have to accept your non-co-operation as a refusal to give us the information we need.
“It’s a legal requirement to tell us who lives at an address and we will take legal action whenever people refuse to give us this information.
“Being on the electoral register doesn’t mean you have to vote, but by not registering, you can harm your credit score, and it will be harder to get a mortgage, loan, mobile phone contract and other credit facilities.”
Anyone who has received a Household Enquiry Form and has not replied to it yet, can do this via the council’s easy-to-use online system or return your form by post. If there are no changes to be made this can be confirmed via the online system or by telephone or text message. Details of how to do this will be on the form.
New residents can easily add themselves to the register at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. The process takes a few minutes and you’ll only need to confirm your name, address, date of birth and National Insurance Number.
October 30, 2015