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Elections & Voting Explained

Who is registered to vote?

Everyone 18 and over has to register to vote by law and the list of voters is updated annually based on who is resident on October 15th so as to take account of changes during the year, although new voters can be added at any time.  

This is organised by the Electoral Registration Officer of each local council within rules set down by the independent Electoral Commission which reports to Parliament and was created in 2001 to regulate parties and elections.  

Registration has been filled in by any member of a household for the other members but, in 2014, the Electoral Commission changed this and required each individual to register separately because of the possibility of electoral fraud. This was already in place in Northern Ireland. There was concern that younger people who had been registered by their parents or by more politically aware members of shared households would disappear from the register.  

Electoral Commission research estimates that about 5% of the population was not registered in the 1950s and that this has increased to about 8% in 2000 and 15% or 7.5 million people in 2015. Their estimate is also that 70% of the 20-24 age group are registered and 63% of those of all ages in private rented accommodation.  

British citizens living abroad can also register and can vote in General elections and European elections. Non-British EU citizens can also register but can only vote in local and European elections. People with a second home can register in both places but have to choose which to vote in for a General Election.

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