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Engaging the voter

Exemplar Award Winner – MoJ Award for Best Implementation of the Electoral Register Data Standard 2009: Tandridge District Council.

The Direction requiring Electoral Registration Officers to take steps to ensure that electors’ details are stored to a consistent standard was issued in April 2008, with standards set for the formatting of names, dates of birth and addresses stored in electoral registers.

Implementation of the data standard will underpin electoral modernisation – giving people choices in the way they exercise their votes and provide the foundation for innovations in local elections, such as the Coordinated Online Record of Electors (CORE) information system. It is also expected that implementation of the data standard will assist with changes in electoral administration – improving confidence in, access to and engagement with the electoral system, and maintaining the professional delivery of registration procedures and elections.

Tandridge Council has pioneered the use of the NLPG, placing it at the heart of every department, service delivery area and business process. It also preempted the Directive, adding UPRNs to its Electoral Register (ER) back in 2005. The new data Directive and the introduction of the CORE initiative provided an impetus to revisit this exercise and validate the ER against the continually evolving LLPG.

This data validation exercise identified a number of anomalies requiring further investigation. It also prompted Tandridge to initiate a more detailed matching exercise, comparing addresses contained within the LLPG with those in the ER.

Outcomes

Initial independent validation of Tandridge’s ER recorded a match rate of greater than 99.6%. The 569 identified errors all fell into five categories; each of the 569 errors was individually analysed and amended, some as simply as by adding a missing digit to the URPN; others requiring more detailed investigation. As a result, Tandridge was proud to be able to report a 100% match rate, well in advance of the December 2009 deadline.

In addition to the work undertaken by Tandridge in order to comply with the Electoral Register Data Standard Direction, the Council has also initiated a major project to ensure the actual addresses on the two databases are the same. Above and beyond the MoJ directive, this project will further improve the quality and validity of both the ER and LLPG, and facilitate the wider use of the data across the Council.

Tandridge took an interesting decision to resolve a small number of address anomalies through direct liaison with residents. This citizen-centric approach to resolving addressing matters is also evident in the approach used by Tandridge, adopting amended address details from returned canvass forms into the LLPG, subject to data standards and formats.

Key benefits

  • By including householders in the process by which their address is defined, recorded and used by the council, and other statutory authorities, the citizen can take ownership of the information, making them more likely to engage with the council.
  • The additional data verification exercise undertaken by Tandridge identified 400 properties that were not receiving electoral registration forms and therefore potentially were not being given the opportunity to take part in the democratic process.
  • The improved LLPG, validated by the above exercises, has been adopted by the council’s newly introduced customer service section. Handling up to 4,000 enquiries a day, the use of address information with which the citizen can identify improves the efficiency of each interaction.
  • A current initiative by Tandridge to reduce postal duplication with the integration of electronic and white mail correspondence relies heavily on effective addressing standards. It has been estimated that first year savings achieved through the use of the LLPG will be between 10-20% of the £150,000 annual postal budget.
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