Register to vote in elections and the annual canvass

Annual canvass - August to November 2020

The annual canvass has changed following amendments to Government legislation. The purpose remains the same – to ensure that all those eligible to vote are on the electoral register ( the electoral register is also used by credit reference agencies so it is important that you are correctly registered at the property you currently reside.).

What is the annual canvass?

We’re required, by law, to ensure the electoral register is up to date and ensure that all those who are eligible to vote are on the electoral register.  You need to be registered to be able to vote in any election or referendum for which you are eligible. The electoral register is also used by credit reference agencies, so it’s important that you are correctly registered at the property where you currently live.

How it works

Previously, we sent out forms to every household showing who was currently on the register and we required a response to every form. This was very costly, as it involved sending out reminders to households who had not responded and employing canvassers to knock on doors when reminders were not responded to.

Now, all local authorities are required to data match their current registers with the records held by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and to conduct local data matching where possible. We recently conducted the national data matching exercise with the DWP and matched our data with Council Tax records. The results showed that 83% of all households in Central Bedfordshire have matched.

All households will receive a letter identifying who is currently registered at the property.

If your letter begins with “Is the electoral register information correct for this address?”

If the information is correct, do nothing. No response means that the information we hold on the electoral register is correct.

If the information isn’t correct, you need to let us know. The letter tells how you can do this online, and gives you security codes, unique to your household, which you need to use.

Please note: If you’ve added a new person at your address, this person must then register to vote (find out how to register to vote). Adding their name to canvass communication does not automatically register them to vote.

If you need any help, please contact us:

Telephone: 0300 300 8008
Email: electoral.registration@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

View a PDF version of the first letter

If your letter begins with “You must respond so we can check who is eligible to register to vote”

You’ll get this letter if we can’t match everyone in your household (either individually or together).

If the information is correct, you need to confirm this. The letter tells how you can do this online, and gives you security codes, unique to your household, which you need to use.

If the information isn’t correct, you need to let us know. The letter tells how you can do this online, and gives you security codes, unique to your household, which you need to use.

Why the information may not be correct

The information may not be correct because you:

  • recently moved house
  • recently changed your name
  • are not registered at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • are not registered for Council Tax
  • have a different name format from the name on file, such as initials instead of your full name

Please note: If you’ve added a new person at your address, this person must then register to vote (find out how to register to vote). Adding their name to the canvass communication does not automatically register them to vote.

If you need any help, please contact us:

Telephone: 0300 300 8008
Email: electoral.registration@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

View a PDF version of the second letter

If you don’t respond to this letter in August

We'll post you a canvass form, with a pre-paid postage envelope, for you to complete and return. If you don’t respond to this, we are required to conduct a personal canvass; this could be a phone call or a visit to your home.

Due to Covid-19 and to protect our officers we may not visit your property until it is safe to do so.

What next?

If you’ve added a new person at your address, this person must then register to vote (find out how to register to vote). Adding their name does not automatically register them to vote.

After you register online, your identity will be checked with the Department for Work and Pensions’ records. If these don’t match, we will require further evidence of your identity (such as a copy of your passport).

We plan to publish our revised register on 1 December 2020.

Visit the Electoral Commission’s website for more information. You can also find out more about the amendments to government legislation and changes to the regulations.