Annual update of electoral register

What is the canvass?

The Electoral Registration Officer has a duty to carry out an annual canvass. The canvass takes place in order to maintain an up-to-date electoral register and to ensure that all individuals in a household, who are eligible to vote, are registered to do so in any forthcoming elections or referendums. To do this, we are required by law to make contact with every residential property in West Suffolk.

This year, the canvass will be following a reformed process with more emphasis on contact by electronic means where possible.

We will be making initial contacts via email and SMS where these contact details are available to us from Monday 6 July 2020.

Where these contact details are unavailable, or a response is not received to the electronic contact, we will be sending paper communications in the post from Wednesday 15 July 2020 onwards.

Please remember – if you are not registered to vote, you cannot take part in any elections or referendums.

How to respond during the canvass

If there are any changes to be made, such as adding new names and deleting old names, the quickest and easiest way to respond is:

  • Online - go to West Suffolk household update service and enter your two part security code (detailed on your email, SMS or paper form) and your postcode, then follow the instructions given.

If nothing has changed and the information on the form is correct, your canvass communication (email, SMS or paper form) will detail whether or not you are required to respond for your property.

If a response is required, please use one of the automated response methods below:

  • Online - at West Suffolk household update service (as explained above)
  • Phone – call 0800 197 9871 and, when prompted, enter part 1 and part 2 of your security code
  • Text (SMS) – text NOCHANGE followed by your security code to 80212.

Please do not forget to include anyone who is 16, 17 or 18. Responding to the form this gives us information about who is entitled to be registered at your property.

Please note that adding new names in your canvass communication response does not automatically register an individual to vote. Any new people added in your response will be invited to complete a separate, individual registration application. This can be done quickly and easily online on the gov.uk website. If they do not apply online, we will send each new person a form, either by email or post. Each individual will need to provide their date of birth, nationality and national insurance number as part of the registration process.

Personal visits by canvassers

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, personal visits by canvassers will be reviewed based on government guidelines.

Should the public health situation allow, canvassers will visit properties from which we still require a response, starting in late September 2020. The canvassers will use a tablet to collect information which will be kept secure. This tablet will synchronise with our electoral register so that the details are always up to date.

For anyone who needs to be added to the register, the canvasser will also be able to collect the date of birth and National Insurance number. Because this is done electronically, it means that the elector’s information will be secure and will be verified more quickly without the need to send out further forms.

Frequently asked questions 

I have recently registered, do I still need to complete this form?

Even if you have recently registered to vote, you should still follow the instructions on your canvass communication which will be specific for your property.

If you have received an email or SMS communication, or a paper form specifiying that a response is required, you will still need to confirm your household's details.

The form sent to my address has the names of people who do not live here - what should I do?

All forms contain the pre-printed details of electors who are currently registered at that address. If the people listed on the form no longer live there, you can update this information online or you can amend the form and return it to us. Please refer to the 'How to respond' section for more information on how to do this.

I am not currently registered to vote - what should I do?

You can register to vote quickly and easily online at GOV.UK - Register to vote. You will need to provide your date of birth and national insurance number to register. Please note that your household will still need to respond to the canvass communication sent to you in addition to this.

No one in our house is eligible to register. Do I still need to respond?

Yes – if there is no one eligible to be registered at your address, please respond via one of the methods described in the 'How to respond' section.

You should state the reason (for example, ineligible nationality, empty property) in your response. If you are unsure whether you are eligible to register, please refer to our Register to vote page.

I am a student living away or this is my second home

Students are able to register both at their home address and at their university address simultaneously as they are entitled to vote in both areas. Equally, anyone living across multiple homes is entitled to register at both of the properties.

However, you are only able to vote once at the same national election or referendum and would need to choose which address to vote from.

I have recently changed my name – what should I do?

If your name has changed, please amend your name when responding online or on the form provided. You will then be sent a change of name form and you will need to provide your previous and new name and the date of the change. You will also need to provide evidence to support the change of name, such as a marriage certificate or deed poll certificate.

Am I required to provide my telephone number and email address?

Providing your telephone number and email address is optional; however, doing so will enable us to contact you if we have any queries regarding your registration.

We will also be able to use your information to contact you electronically for electoral purposes which will reduce the need for costly postal communications.

Please note, we will only use this information to contact you for electoral purposes and this information is not given to anyone else. For more information relating to the processing of personal data, please refer to our privacy notice.

I am concerned about my personal safety. Do I need to fill in this form?

You might be eligible to register to vote anonymously. Please contact us at elections@westsuffolk.gov.uk for more details.