To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the (a) set-up and (b) ongoing costs of introducing individual electoral registration.
The Government agree with the principle of individual registration but is not yet convinced that it could be implemented in Great Britain (GB) without causing a significant drop in the registration rate.
An assessment of the set up and ongoing cost for introducing individual registration was made following the Electoral Commission's Voting for Change Report in 2003.
At that time, it was estimated that the cost of an annual canvass under household registration stood at approximately £40 million. Likely costs of the annual canvass under individual registration were estimated at approximately £55 million and the one off set-up costs of implementing individual registration at approximately £17 million. These figures did not take account of the potential for the ongoing costs of individual registration to be mitigated by reducing the frequency of the annual canvass as in Northern Ireland.
Under section 67 the Electoral Administration Act 2006, the Electoral Commission has power to collect financial information about expenditure of registration. This will provide up to date and more complete data to estimate costs for policy changes for elections in the future.
Our vision for electoral registration is clear: we want to protect the rights of every eligible person to participate in the UK's democratic process by ensuring complete, accurate and secure electoral registration.
Any new system of electoral registration in Great Britain would need to be tailored to current circumstances, and in particular, would need to address the challenge of under registration as an estimated 3.5 million eligible electors are not currently registered to vote.