To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the annual canvass produces an (1) comprehensive, and (2) accurate, record of the electorate in England.
The Representation of the People (Annual Canvass) (Amendment) Regulations 2019, made in October 2019, introduced comprehensive reform to the annual canvass. Canvass Reform has provided Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) with greater flexibility to target their resources in a way which best suits their local area, while at the same time reducing their overall administrative burden. The reforms also make the canvass more effective for citizens, as the initial data matching step means that many will no longer have to respond to the canvass each year.
Ensuring that the electoral register is both accurate and complete is the legislative responsibility of EROs and the Government is supporting EROs to be able to meet this requirement. Preparations to undertake the 2020 Annual Canvass under the reformed system are well underway and Cabinet Office officials have ensured a comprehensive package of training has been provided and direct support is in place.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, and to provide additional flexibility to EROs, the Government is also introducing legislation this summer to extend the publication date of the annual register from December 2020 to February 2021. This will provide EROs with greater flexibility and further time to produce a comprehensive and accurate record of the electorate.