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Online individual voter registration goes live

10/06/14

People will be able to register to vote in just three minutes thanks to one of the Government Digital Service's exemplar services, a government minister pledged today.

Greg Clark, junior Cabinet Office minister also hailed the start of online voter registration as the key to wiping out the electoral scams alleged to have happened in several areas of the country.

The Electoral Commission described the new process as a huge step forward in modernising the electoral system and delivering "a quick, easy and convenient option".

Clark said the site - https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote - would allow people to register via their smartphones and tablets. He said: "This service will bring voter registration into the 21st century and make it easier, simpler and faster for people to register to vote."

The minister, who is responsible for electoral law, also said it would place "significant obstacles" in the way of fraudsters, who will no longer be able to register 'ghost voters' to cast their ballots by post.

That is because online registration coincides with the transition from household to individual electoral registration - the biggest change to the electoral registration system in almost 100 years.

It will replace the current, much-criticised system - where one person in each household registers everyone to vote - with a requirement for people to register individually.

Would-be voters must provide their national insurance number and date of birth, information which will be cross-checked by electoral officials with a department for work and pensions database.

About 80% of voters will be automatically transferred to a new register of individuals, when their details are confirmed against existing records. The Cabinet Office says the system is the first to link all local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland with a central national service across the Public Services Network.

The remaining 20% of 'missing voters' will be prompted to sign up through letters and canvassers by 2016.

Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission was forced to warn people to avoid a "rip off" company that is offering to help customers for £29.95.

The watchdog has written to the company and requested Google remove its ads from its search engine. Jenny Watson, the commission's chairwoman, said: "It is very simple to register to vote and we want to make sure no-one mistakenly uses this other service that charges people for something that is available completely free."

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