Electoral registration

Scope and Content

Electoral registers

[also commonly referred to as registers of electors, electoral rolls, poll books and voters lists]

Administrative / Biographical History

In the period from 1996 registers of electors for local and parliamentary elections have been compiled by local councils, the unitary authorities. Vale of Glamorgan Council is responsible for all of Vale of Glamorgan constituency and the Penarth part of Cardiff South and Penarth constituency (also a very small part of Bridgend constituency).

All British, British Commonwealth, and Irish citizens are entitled to vote in parliamentary, European Union, Welsh Assembly (Senedd) and local government elections providing they are listed in the registers and are aged 18 or over. The main categories of those excepted from registration are (1) sitting peers in the House of Lords (2) patients detained under mental health legislation who have criminal convictions, those serving prison sentences, and those convicted within the previous five years of corrupt or illegal election practices. Registration is compulsory but voting is not.

Registers are normally referred to by their date of validity rather than date of compilation (so the '2001 register' is the one valid through most of 2001 though it was compiled in the previous year). Until 2003 the practice was to compile in October, with a 'relevant date' of 10 or 15 October, and the register would be in force from the next 16 February for one year until 15 February.

The 2003 register and subsequent ones are different, as a consequence of the Representation of the People (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 (SI 1871) and corresponding legislation for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Two versions of the register are now produced. The full version contains the names of all voters and is used primarily to support the electoral process. Public access to it is strictly controlled. The edited version of the register is a public document and available for sale for commercial use for direct marketing, advertising, etc. It omits the names of electors who have exercised their right to opt out to protect their privacy. Only the full register is collected by Glamorgan Archives; edited registers are available in libraries. The relevant date of these registers is 15 October and they are in force from 1 December for a year.

The next change came with the new system of rolling registration. From the 2009 register onwards, the main register is published on 1 December and in force immediately, but monthly amendments are produced. As before, both a full and an edited version are produced.