A Cautionary Tale on BBC Democracy Day
It would be uncharitable to be too disparaging about South Oxfordshire DC and Vale of White Horse DC’s combined electoral services department when they have just suffered a major arson attack. I will therefore start by saying that I’m sure that our local authority is no worse than anywhere else.
However I have heard a story recently about a local man’s attempts to register to vote which was very disappointing.
Firstly, some background. There has been a major reform of the process for voter registration since the last general election. If you can hold off the yawn long enough to read further, this issue could mean that you are no longer eligible to vote. Due to a switch from household to individual voter registration, it is estimated that at least a million people have dropped off the electoral roll.
Great, I hear you say, maybe I won’t get anymore calls about PPI claims.
Unfortunately, every five years the electoral roll gets used for more than a way for the Council to sell your information to marketing companies. There is an election just around the corner and if you have dropped off the roll there is a serious risk that you may also lose your right to have a say in who forms the next government.
If you have had a letter from SODC or VOWH DCs telling you that you are no longer on the register, please take action NOW!
The email I had this week was from a gentleman in Faringdon who has been battling with the Council to get him back on the roll for weeks. It took four attempts before he was successful! Four attempts for someone that was on the roll to be re-admitted. In a first-world democracy, that seems to me to be a lot of banging your head against a brick wall just to ensure that you maintain your democratic right.
Since much of the SODC and VOWH electoral services department will have been at least disrupted by the fire, this slow administration of applications to re-join the roll may get worse. There may also be a surge in demand for this issue to be addressed which will clog up the system.
Therefore, if you have had a letter about re-registering to vote, please don’t delay. Take action now to ensure that you can have your say on May 7th. And if you don’t succeed please persevere. After all it is a District Council election as well so there’s a chance to vote on the running of electoral services, as well as the country!