What is the Electoral Roll? – The Fundamentals of Voting in the UK
You know you can’t vote without being on it but just what is the Electoral Roll?
1) The Electoral Roll – Removing the Confusion
You may have heard people refer to the ‘Voter’s Roll’ or ‘the Electoral Register’. These are not different functions or services these are merely different expressions that people use to refer to the Electoral Roll. They are one and the same.
2) The Primary Function of The Electoral Roll
Is to enable you to vote in the UK. If you turn up at a polling station to vote in a Local or General Election, if you are not on the electoral roll then you will not be able to do so. So put simply, the Electoral Roll is a register of all of the people that are registered to vote in the UK. If you want to back your political party in the democratic process then you need to be on the electoral roll.
3) Who is Eligible to be on The Electoral Roll?
It is important to note that eligibility to be on the electoral roll does not always directly correspond to who is entitled to vote in the UK. What does this elusive sentence mean? If you are between the ages of 16 – 18 then you can be present on the Electoral Roll but you cannot vote until you are 18 years of age! This may very well soon change as the Government is involved in discussions regarding lowering of the voting age to 16.
Aside from age, to be on the Electoral Roll you also need to be:
- UK Resident
- A British citizen
- A qualifying Commonwealth citizen
- A citizen of the Republic of Ireland or other European Union (EU) member state
Again, be aware that eligibility to be on the electoral roll does not always mean that you have the right to vote. For example, EU citizens cannot vote in General Elections but they can in Local Elections. There are also other exemptions from voting in the UK that will be examined in a subsequent article.
4) Is there a Single Electoral Roll?
Yes and no! You asked the question What is the Electoral Roll and there are two ever so slightly different answers:
There is the source version of the Electoral Roll and a cut down version of it. The source version of the Electoral Roll is available to individuals but only under supervision and is only available to certain approved parties or companies. That is why it is a trip to your local council office to look at the full electoral roll.
This brings us to the topic of opting out which has been available as an option to individuals since 2003. You can be on the source version of the Electoral Roll but then elect to not be included in the cut down or ‘Edited’ version of it. So in essence you have two slightly different editions of the Electoral Roll. This slimmed down version of the Electoral Roll is available to anyone so could be used for telemarketing for instance.
5) What Details are Held on the Full Electoral Roll?
The full electoral roll displays the following details:
- A voter number, comprising of the polling district reference, two letters and then a number.
- A voter’s name and address
- A voter’s date of birth but only if their 18th birthday falls within the year that the register is published
- If the voter has requested a postal vote
- Post election: An indication of whether or not that voter cast their vote
6) Searching the Electoral Roll
If you are trying to find someone in UK, an electoral roll search is an excellent means to do this. There are companies that now enable you to search the Electoral Roll online instead of having the hassle of going to your local council office. To ensure that you find the best quality online service please look at the electoral roll reviews on our home page before making a decision.
Look out for our other articles on How to Search the Electoral Roll and Am I on The Electoral Roll which will build further understanding around your question, What is the Electoral Roll?