If you want to vote then you must register with the local authority. This voter’s register then becomes a public document which can be searched by anyone.
But what if you want to retain the right to vote but you don’t want to appear on the electoral register. Perhaps to stop credit reference agencies, debt collectors and TV Licensing from using it to locate and harass you.
To do this you can make an Anonymous Registration Application.
Before I explain what it is, let me explain what it is NOT. Anonymous registration is not the same as ticking the check box on the voter’s registration form that asks if you want to be excluded from the edited register. Ticking this box will NOT stop private organisations from obtaining your details.
Each year every county council in Britain compiles two versions of the electoral register: The open register (also known as the edited register) and the full register .
The full register contains the name and address of everyone in the district registered to vote. Although it is a public document it can only be viewed at the offices of your local council under request and under scrutiny (allegedly to stop us criminally minded members of the public from attempting to copy and sell it). This version is made available to all departments of the local authority. It is also sold, in it’s entirety, to each of the 3 major credit reference agencies in Britain: Experian, Equifax and Call Credit.
The open register is available to almost anyone to purchase, examine or copy. You can view it whenever you like just by visiting your local council or local library. You don’t need an appointment or to give any reason why you wish to view it. Nor should you be prevented from photocopying or photographing any part of it.
On the face of it it would seem that the only way to opt out of the electoral roll is to not register to vote. But can you do this? Is refusing to register to vote a criminal offence?
Well, no. But as far as the local authorities are concerned, any individual who fails to provide information to an Electoral Registration Officer when asked can be given a fixed penalty notice under the new Electoral Registration and Administration Bil . And let’s not forget that even if you don’t register to vote, and are paying council tax, the local authority may amend the electoral register to include your name and address anyway.
So how do you prevent your details from appearing in both the full and open register, and stop not just the credit reference agencies from accessing your details, but block almost every department in the local authority from accessing them?
This is where the little known process of the Anonymous Registration Applicatio comes in.
Anonymous registration is available to anyone who can demonstrate that they would be at risk if their details were to be made public on the electoral register. If their application succeeds then their name and address are removed from both the edited and full register. This means that no credit reference agencies, members of the public or private organisations can see those details. Only the police and limited electoral administrators can access the records which are maintained in a special list called the record of anonymous entries .
A registration for anonymity can be made at any point throughout the electoral register’s duration. If a person’s name and address already exists on the register, then that person can apply to have it struck out. If their name does not yet appear they can send both a voter’s registration form and an anonymous registration form in at the same time. This will have the effect of preventing the voter’s registration from being entered onto the electoral register until the anonymous application has been decided; the decision for which falls upon the Electoral Registration Officer.
Eligibility for anonymous registration is limited to those who have been the subject of criminal harassment, molestation or harm and have a court order to prove it: such as an injunction or restraining order against someone. Otherwise they must submit a letter of attestation.
A letter of attestation is a statement made by someone in a position of authority explaining why they believe an individual’s welfare could be at stake if they were named on the electoral register. And the list of officials that can supply such a document on your behalf are restricted to
• A police officer of or above the rank of superintendent of any police force in the UK
• The Director General of the Security Service or the Serious Organised Crime Agency
• A director of adult social services or children’s services in England or a director of social services in Wales
• Any chief social work officer in Scotland
• Any director of social services of a Health and Social Services Board or executive director of social work of a Health and Social Services Trust in Northern Ireland
If you cannot satisfy the safety test and do not have any documentary evidence to support your claim, then in all likelihood your application will be rejected.
However, this is where a significant loophole lies, that in theory makes it’s possible for almost ANYONE to have their details removed from the electoral register without having a court order or letter of attestation. Under the rules drawn up by the Electorate Commission, if you apply for anonymous registration and are rejected then NO ENTRY OF ANY KIND will be made on the register. In other words, it’s possible to return an anonymous registration form and still have your name and address blocked from appearing on the register, even if the the application is rejected.
If the anonymous registration application is rejected, no entry can be made on the register for that elector either as an anonymous or ordinary elector, not even based on any original canvass form or rolling registration application. If the anonymous application is accepted, the original canvass form is disregarded for that elector and only the anonymous entry shall apply. This does not affect any other people on a canvass form; they should be registered normally unless they also apply for anonymous registration.The application must contain the elector’s reason as to why they are applying for an anonymous entry. The application must also be accompanied by either a court order or an attestation.
Electoral Commission Guidelines Part F. Anonymous Registration 6.19
What this means is that you will not be entered onto either the electoral register or the record of anonymous entries. Your voter’s registration form will not be processed and you will be effectively exempted from appearing on the register. Your details will not be held on any separate register and your name and address will not show on either the full or open register. Nor will it be shared without any outside organisations, such as credit reference agencies, bailiffs and debt collectors.
For all intent and purposes it will be as if you no longer live at your current address. And it’s all perfectly legal!The downside however is that you will no longer be eligible to vote. But for those who are hounded by persistent abusers of the information held within the electoral register, that will probably be a small but merciful price to pay.