Residents are being urged to register to vote, as reminder forms hit the doormats of thousands of households across the city this week.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has so far received responses from almost 65,000 households since posting out initial registration forms to all 115,000 homes in the city last month. That response is already slightly higher than last year’s annual canvass, but election officials have warned that if residents don’t complete the canvass, they won’t be able to vote.
Returning officer Paul Hackney said: “The number of responses we have already received is encouraging, but it still means that more than 49,000 households have yet to respond.
“Residents who haven’t yet completed the canvass run the risk of losing their right to vote. That’s why we have mailed out reminder forms to all those homes this week, and we urge residents to respond as soon as possible.
“It is a legal requirement to register to vote, and every year the register has to be updated by law. Entries on the register are not automatically carried over from year-to-year, so it is really important that updated information is supplied.
“Paying council tax does not mean that your name automatically appears on the electoral register – the register is compiled by the Electoral Registration Office, which is independent of the city council. If you’re not on the register you may have problems obtaining credit, opening bank accounts or obtaining any services or goods that require a credit check to be done.”
The annual canvass is taking place earlier than usual this year because of the police and crime commissioner election taking place on November 15. The register will be updated in time for the election, instead of the usual publication date of 1 December.
Of the 65,000 responses to the canvass that the council has already received, 51 per cent have been via the post, 23 per cent via telephone, 15 per cent via the internet and 10 per cent via text. Phone, internet and text responses can be made if residents don’t have any changes to make to their registration form. They are the quickest way to respond, and more people have registered using these methods this year than last year.
Households that don’t respond to the reminder forms by 31 August at the latest will be visited by elections office staff, who will carry out personal visits during September.
Paul added: “It is especially important that people complete the canvass as soon as they can so that they are registered for November’s election. Households that don’t respond will be visited by elections office staff, who will knock on their doors on at least three separate occasions to ensure they are on the register. This has to be done by law, but it is a costly process, and one which is a drain on taxpayers’ money. By responding early to the canvass, you are also sparing cost to the public purse.”