Hackney’s electoral register is the most inaccurate in Great Britain, according to new figures from the independent election watchdog.
Data from a recent Electoral Commission report reveals that 23 per cent of the entries on Hackney’s register have not been confirmed.
The national average of unconfirmed names is 4 per cent, and Hackney is one of only three local authorities with more than 14 per cent unconfirmed entries.
These entries, which in June 2015 constituted 1.9 million entries across Great Britain, are known as ‘carry forwards’ – entries that have been retained on the registers under ‘transitional arrangements’.
In the June report ‘Assessment of progress with the transition to Individual Electoral Registration’ the explanation for Hackney’s discrepancy favoured by the Electoral Commission is that a large proportion of the 23 per cent are bogus entries.
Hackney Council has found it difficult to implement the new system whereby names on the electoral register are matched to other data held by the local authority.
But the report also considers the possibility that the unconfirmed entries could be genuine voters who have been unwilling to comply with the local election department’s requests for information.
Time running out
Hackney’s 23 per cent unconfirmed figure is expected to fall after the Council’s annual canvass this summer which will either remove some of these entries that should not be there, or get some of these people to register to vote under the new system.
But the pressure is on because the government is bringing forward the transition cut-off date for implementing electoral registers based entirely on the new system to December 2015, against the advice of the Electoral Commission.
There are fears that if voters cannot be confirmed the electoral register risks shrinking by nearly a quarter, which could well trigger a spate of local ward boundary revisions.
This shrinkage could also have implications for the parliamentary boundary review.
Registration ‘big challenge’
A Hackney Council spokeswoman said the new system was a “big challenge” particularly in light of the December deadline. She said: “We will be bringing in extra resources to make sure we can process applications and encourage residents to register to vote.”
“Anyone who has not registered under the new system by 1 December will be removed from the register and so it is imperative that every resident responds to the form we are sending.”
A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said: “Areas with high population mobility, student populations and large numbers of private renters – such as Hackney – have faced particular challenges in getting their residents on to the new electoral registers.
“The annual canvass currently taking place will help ensure that the electoral registers are as accurate and complete as possible before the move to the new registration system ends.”