Harlow Council set to update electoral register
Politics / Sun 24th Oct 2021 at 09:02am
HARLOW Council has been conducting its annual updating of the electoral register – however this year it is being done with a difference.
For the first time, canvassers have been going door to door using tablets to obtain the information required from households, so people don’t have to sign paper forms. This will lead to time and cost savings in the printing and postage of forms.
Canvassers are calling on residents who have not yet responded to a letter sent out earlier this year asking them to confirm their details or invite them to register to vote. Previously, names would have been added to a paper canvass form; the council would then post out an Invitation To Register form to those wishing to register to vote. Now, by using a tablet the canvasser can complete the whole process online, on the doorstep.
The council hopes to also use the tablets at other times of the year to fulfil legal requirements to make personal visits to those who have not responded to an invitation to register.
Councillor Russell Perrin, portfolio holder for finance and governance, said: “It makes perfect sense for the council to be making the move to paperless canvassing, as it is a quicker, cheaper and more convenient alternative to completing the canvassing process. We also hope that by engaging with residents in this way it will encourage more people to register to vote and take part in the democratic process.
“Residents will also find it much easier as there is no more waiting for paper forms to be sent through to them in the post. We are making technology work for residents and us, cutting down on the use of paper and simplifying the whole process.”
The easiest way to respond to the request for confirmation of details is online at www.householdresponse.com/harlow
If you need to register to vote, the easiest way to do this is at www.gov.uk/registertovote
The revised electoral register will be published on 1 December 2021 and the deadline to register for this is 22 November.
What a nonsense and a dangerous and expensive nonsense it is as well. With the electorate already disheartened with policy delivery and with a 22% turnout in a Ward election earlier this year I can only see chaos occurring with residents' refusing to confirm even their name to these canvassers. Hopefully, that is not the purpose of this change. So the questions are: Who are these canvassers? Are they council employees? If not who? What will the cost be to the council? Further will this process be independent of political interference and independently evaluated and verified? If it is then the costs will be doubled. In short the current system has worked for decades and therefore does not need fundamental change. Indeed if the council believe serious electoral fraud has occurred in previous elections, perhaps they should produce the evidence before going ahead with this unnecessary change to electoral processes. And finally, perhaps the money used for this process could be better used for delivering improved public services as promised last May: now that would real innovation!
Is it really cheaper to buy tablets, build the back end server sofware, databases, integration systems, employ canvassers, train them, insure them, background check them, and manage them? When will they be calling on people? During the day when most people are at work or in the (dark) evenings? If someone is not in, refuses to talk with a canvasser, or the 'system is down', or the canvasser enters details incorrectly, will they be taken off the electoral register and lose their right to vote? The data that is collected - will this be shared with other government or council departments? Posting forms is done (or should be done) in bulk, and at reduced postal rates. It is a system that works and the costs are known and managed. Changing an established system so dramatically is dangerous. This is messing with people's right to vote.
I have to say those are my thoughts exactly Gary Roberts & JD. All I can see here are extra costs being generated, which sooner/later we will have to end up paying for.