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Encouraging Wiltshire residents to register to vote

With the General Election now just a few months away, Wiltshire Council is working hard to encourage as many people as possible to make sure they can use their vote.

Letters are currently going out to all households in the county to check the details of those who are registered to vote and to encourage those who are not registered to do so.

The country recently underwent a major shift in the way electors are registered with the transition to Individual Electoral Registration (IER).

Previously, one person in every household was responsible for registering everyone else who lives at that address. Under IER, each person is now required to register to vote individually, rather than by household.

Any postal or proxy voters who could not be confirmed on the new IER register had to have their absent vote facility removed. They were all contacted in early December to advise them of the cancellation, and were also sent an application form if they wished to re-instate it.

Those who did not reply will have had their postal vote removed from the register. Others may not have registered for IER, but could be carried forward under the rules as unconfirmed electors.

Most councils are reporting a drop in elector numbers compared to February 2014. In Wiltshire there are currently just 7,000 unconfirmed electors out of nearly 360,000 (98% are confirmed).

The council is in the process of writing to households, listing all electors registered at a property, together with their voting method (ie, postal, proxy or attendance at a polling station).

Carlton Brand, corporate director said, “This letter will help to prompt people to register or ask for a postal vote early, which should all help voter turn-out in May.”

Local authorities now also have to write to postal voters every five years to update their signature, and this will happen in early February.

Stuart Wheeler, cabinet member for governance said, “We need to encourage as many people as possible to take part in our democratic process. Using your vote is an important part of living in a democracy, that’s why we’re doing everything we can as a council to encourage people to make sure they are registered.”