Agenda and draft minutes

Electoral Provisions Sub-Committee - Wednesday 11 June 2014 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room B12. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Read and K Kelly.

2.

Declarations of Interests

To receive declarations of interest from Members including the term(s) of the Grant of Dispensation (if any) by the Audit Board or Managing Director.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests.

3.

Minutes of the meeting held on 20 November 2013 pdf icon PDF 37 KB

To note and agree the minutes of the meeting held on 20 November 2013.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Sub-committee held on 20 November 2013 were agreed as an accurate record.

4.

Urgent Items

The Chairman will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items and their position on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

5.

Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places 2014 pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To review the polling districts and polling places in the Dartford constituency area in accordance with the requirements of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 and the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Member Services Manager informed the Sub-committee that under the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 there was a requirement to hold full statutory reviews of Polling Districts and Polling Places every five years with the first such review being completed by January 2015. This replaced the previous requirement to carry out statutory reviews every four years, with the last one having been undertaken in Dartford in 2011. In any event it was the Council’s practice to carry out a “light touch” review on an annual basis to ensure that the current arrangements were fit for purpose. Although there had been some changes to polling places since 2011, mainly when the previous places had been temporarily available for elections, the only change to polling districts had been the creation of a new polling district (Waterside) in December 2013 to serve new homes in that been built in that area.

 

Members were advised of the principal requirements of the full statutory review and the proposed timetable which would include the Sub-committee conducting an initial review of current polling districts and polling places, the Acting Returning Officer’s initial submission on the arrangements and the current and future locations of polling stations and widespread public consultation from 1st July until 8 August. There would be a further report to the Sub-committee in September which would include the outcome of the consultation, options for consideration and recommendations for submission to the General Assembly of the Council in October. This would allow any changes to existing arrangements to be incorporated in the annual register of electors to be published on 1st December 2014. It was explained that the Council would be writing to all Councillors, local political parties and community organisations and organisations with expertise in accessibility for the disabled but that any local elector would also be able to contribute to the consultation.

 

Notice of the intention to carry out a review had been published on the Council’s web site and was on display at the Civic Centre and at Dartford Library. Officers had carried out an initial review of the existing arrangements for polling districts and polling places. A comparison had been made between the electors in each polling district in 2011 when the last statutory review had been carried out and as of 17 February 2014 when the annual register of electors was published. The Electoral Commission recommended that there should be a maximum of 2,500 electors allocated to any polling station and currently only one polling district, Greenhithe, had exceeded this number however when postal votes were taken into account the number of electors eligible to vote at the polling station in Greenhithe was below the 2,500 threshold.

 

 Whilst it was recognised that the pace and scale of residential development in the borough would eventually require a change to electoral arrangements there was a concern that the increase in building in particular areas could result in a need for additional polling districts and polling stations in certain wards  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Individual Electoral Registration (IER) pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To update the Sub-committee on the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration.

 

Minutes:

The Sub-committee received an update on the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration and the Council’s preparations for the most significant change to the system of registration for a hundred years. It was noted that from 10 June 2014 anyone wishing to be added to the electoral register would have to apply to do so individually and would have to supply details of their date of birth and national insurance number as well as their name and address. This additional information would be checked against the records held by the Department of Works and Pensions to verify the identity of the applicant. Applicants could now apply to register on-line or by contacting the Council’s Electoral Services team. This replaced the previous system of household registration.

 

In order to make the transition to the new system as painless as possible for most people it was intended that the contents of the Council’s existing register of electors would be submitted to the DWP IER digital service on 30 June 2014 for data matching against the DWP’s records. This would involve submitting details of in excess of 72,000 electors and it was expected that over 80% of the records would be matched. Where this was the case those electors would be automatically “confirmed” across to the new IER transitional register and would receive letters to confirm that this had happened and that no further action was needed. Efforts would also be made to match as many people who had not matched DWP records by using locally held databases. When this had been done on a trial basis in July 2013 of the 13,500 records which had not initially matched DWP records a further 5,500 had been matched using local data but 8,000 could not be matched. It was hoped that the match rates in 2014 would be slightly better as considerable work had been carried out to try and make the register as accurate as possible before the confirmation process took place. Where records could not be matched individuals would be sent Invitations to Register and where the Registration Officer suspected that eligible inividuals might be present in a household then a Household Enquiry Form would be sent to seek information on the occupants which could then be followed up by sending Invitations to Register. Members were reminded that non-responders to both HEF’s and ITR’s would have to be sent at least two further reminders and at least one attempt to make personal contact by “door knocking”. This would be a major exercise during the transition period following 30 June but would also be a continuing requirement throughout the year on the case of new applications.

 

It was noted that nobody on the register prior to the change to IER would be removed if they failed to be confirmed or to respond to invitations to register until 1st December 2015 and would still be able to vote at the May elections in 2015. However anyone who had not been confirmed to the new register  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.