Electoral Register Information Will Soon Be Available Again

Copies of the electoral register have

been available for purchase by the private sector since 1832. In November

2001, that long running practice ceased due to the decision of the Court

in Robertson's case. The High Court held that the rights contained

in the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Human Rights Act

1998 meant a voter must be able to register to vote without his

details being included in the version of the electoral register that was

able to be sold. The decision was not popular with the private sector as

it used the electoral register for a variety of purposes including direct

marketing and credit referencing.

In mid July, 2002 the UK government passed regulations which will again

allow access to the electoral register. The new regulations provide for

two registers known as the "full register" and the "edited register". The

"full register" will contain the details of all registered voters.

Availability and use of the full register is tightly regulated and is

essentially limited to electoral purposes and security and law

enforcement. Credit reference agencies will also have access but only for

the purposes of providing identity checks and evaluating applications for

credit on behalf of banks. It will be a criminal offence to either use an

unauthorised copy of the full register or for an authorised holder to use

it for an unauthorised purpose. Although public display of the full

register will still occur it must be supervised and copying is prohibited

apart from hand written notes.

The "edited register" can be purchased by anyone and used for any

purpose and is due to be first available in December 2002. Electors can

opt-out of having their names and addresses...

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