Don’t lose your voice - residents urged to look out for their voter registration details from Sandwell Council
Published 16th July 2020
Sandwell residents are being warned not to lose their voice on decisions that affect them by making sure their electoral registration details are up to date.
With elections taking place in Sandwell in May 2021, this is an important opportunity for residents to make sure they can vote.
The annual canvass ensures that Sandwell Council can keep the electoral register up to date, identifying any residents who are not registered so that they can be encouraged to complete their details and be eligible to vote.
The canvass will change this year. Unlike previous years, most residents will not need to respond to their letter if the information the council holds for their household is correct.
Letters will be sent in August to all households in Sandwell. Residents are urged to read their letter carefully, particularly the instructions at the top of the letter which state whether they need to reply or not.
Most people (around nine out of ten households in Sandwell) will receive a letter at the beginning of August which will show the names of the people who live in their home.
If the list of people who live in your home is correct, you do not need to do anything. The letter will state this clearly at the top.
You will not need to return your letter or go online, send a text or make a phone call to confirm the list is correct.
If the list of people who live in your household is wrong, you need to let the council know. You will be able to do this online, by text or by phone. There will not be a letter for you to return to the council.
Around 14,000 households (roughly one in ten households in Sandwell) will receive a slightly different letter in mid-August that must be responded to - whether the details are correct or not. This letter will go to households where it's not known if the people who lived there last year still live there.
If you receive this letter in mid-August, please read it carefully. It will tell you clearly that you must respond whether the information the council holds for your household is correct or not. You must also let the council know if the people who live in your household are different to those listed in the letter.
You will be able to respond to confirm or change your household details online, by text, by phone or by returning the form by letter. If you do not respond to this letter, the council will send a reminder. If you still do not respond, you will receive a phone call or visit to make sure you respond to the letter.
David Stevens, Sandwell Council’s Chief Executive and Electoral Registration Officer, said: “It’s important that residents keep an eye out for a letter from the council so we can make sure we have the right details on the electoral register for every address in Sandwell.
"To make sure you are able to have your say at elections taking place next year, simply follow the instructions when you receive a letter from us.
“If you’re not currently registered, your name will not appear in the letter we send. If you want to register, the easiest way is online, or we’ll send you information explaining how to do this in the post.
“This year’s canvass, which we have to carry out by law, is taking place during a challenging public health situation. We are working to ensure that we take account of public health guidelines, including the continued importance of social distancing.”
People who have moved recently are particularly encouraged to look out for the voter registration messages from Sandwell Council and check the details. Research by the Electoral Commission indicates that recent home movers are far less likely to be registered than those who have lived at the same address for a long time.
Across Great Britain, 92% of people who have been at their property for more than sixteen years will be registered, compared to 36% of people who have lived at an address for less than one year.
Melanie Davidson, Head of Support and Improvement at the Electoral Commission, said: “It’s really important that everyone who is entitled to vote is able to do so.
“Making sure you provide the necessary information to your local authority when it is needed will ensure the process runs smoothly. This is particularly helpful in the current public health situation, as it will help avoid the need for home visits from canvassers.
“There’s lots of helpful information about registering to vote on our website.”
Residents who have any questions can contact Sandwell Council’s elections team by emailing email@example.com or by calling 0121 569 3244.
Notes to editors
1. Elections are taking place in Sandwell in May 2021.
2. The Representation of the People Act 1983 places a duty on Electoral Registration Officers to maintain the electoral register for their area and to conduct an annual canvass of all residential properties.
3. The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. The register is used for electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as detecting crime (e.g. fraud), calling people for jury service or checking credit applications.
4. The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.
5. To be eligible to register to vote a person must be:
• Aged 16 or over (a person may register to vote at 16, but may not vote until they are 18)
• A British or qualifying Commonwealth citizen who has leave to enter and remain in the UK or does not require such leave.
• A citizen of the Republic of Ireland or other European Union (EU) member state.
6. British citizens, Irish citizens and qualifying citizens of Commonwealth countries (including Cyprus and Malta) can vote in local government elections and Police and Crime Commissioner elections. To date, the UK Government has not made changes to the eligibility of EU citizens, meaning at present they too can vote in these elections.
7. Full details of the Electoral Commission’s research on the electoral registers can be found on its website.