To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference his Department's proposals on the reform of the annual canvass published in October 2018, whether his Department has carried out a risk assessment of the hybrid model for delivering the annual canvass; and what steps his Department is taking to ensure the right to vote is protected for (a) people with protected characteristics and (b) generally.
The Government is committed to ensuring that everyone who is eligible to vote is able to do so. An integral part of this is having an electoral registration system that is efficient and meets the needs of the modern citizen.
As part of our plans for reform of the annual canvass, the Government is currently consulting on a hybrid model based on the evidence from 23 canvass pilot projects. The consultation is being conducted jointly with the Scottish and Welsh Governments and will remain open until 30th November 2018.
The pilots have provided us with a strong basis from which to evaluate and mitigate any risks. In developing the model, we have worked closely with stakeholders in the electoral community including the Electoral Commission, Association of Electoral Administrators and the Scottish Assessors Association. Throughout, we have considered how best to support citizens with protected characteristics to ensure our policy proposal for the reform of the annual canvass supports their participation in our country’s democratic events.
We have engaged with organisations that represent their interests. This has included seeking the opinions of the Accessibility of Elections Working Group, whose membership includes leading charities, such as the Royal Mencap Society, RNIB and Scope. The proposals for the reform of the annual canvass were shared with this group on the 9th October.
Our proposals for canvass reform do not affect the ability of individuals to register at any time during the year. The introduction of online registration has made it easier, simpler and faster to register to vote. This can be done online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote in as little as 5 minutes.