The Electoral Register and the Open Register
Using information received from the public, registration officers keep two registers – the electoral register and the open register (formally know as the edited 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.
Who uses the electoral register?
- Election staff, political parties, candidates and holders of elected office use the register of 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 Electoral Commission, the Boundary Commissons (which set constituency boundaries for most elections)
- 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 applicants and employees.
- Credit reference agencies can buy the register to help them 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 is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. It is mainly used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. The personal data in the register must always be processed in line with data-protection legislation.
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-access register would not affect your right to vote.
Who uses 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, as well as when they shop online.
- 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.
- 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, for example when issuing residents parking permits and other local services which require evidence of residency
- online directory firms to help users of the websites to 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 applicants
If a person wishes to opt out of appearing in the open register which can be sold then this can be done when completing the new online service at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. If your name already appears on the open register you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request that your name be removed.
You may also, under data protection legislation, request that the Electoral Registration Officer excludes your name on a permanent basis from the Edited Register. Each elector needs to complete a Notice under Data Protection Act 1998 Opt out form individually and send it to the Electoral Registration Officer in order to request that their details are excluded permanently.
The open register is available for purchase by any person and can be purchased for:
- in data format £20 plus £1.50 per 1000 entries or part thereof or
- in paper format £10 plus £5 per 1000 entries or part thereof.
Both the full and the open registers are available to be viewed at the Council Offices and the attached documents explain the use of both versions.