Feeds

Data-matching won't help much with electoral registration

Report: Addresses may not match between records

Top three mobile application threats

Data-matching will be of limited use to the government in introducing individual electoral registration, especially in identifying potential electors, says a report by Parliament's political and constitutional reform committee.

The document, titled Individual Electoral Registration and Electoral Administration, recommends that the Electoral Commission publishes its evaluations of 20 data-matching pilots ahead of legislative changes.

The pilots are being used to test whether electoral registration officers can use public databases to identify people eligible to vote but missing from the electoral register. The government hopes to assess whether these schemes should be rolled out more widely in 2012.

Representatives of three local authorities told the committee that the data-matching pilots had been "for all of us... very, very labour intensive". The three councils had hired additional staff to help run the projects, boosting staffing levels in their electoral registration sections by between 50 per cent and 100 per cent.

Julian Bassham, electoral services manager for Southwark council, told committee that data-matching "has been more successful for us at this stage in telling us what we do know rather than what we don't know ... At the moment it does not look, from our side, like the DWP data will necessarily answer those questions."

According to the report, addresses may not match between records because they have been input differently, or because house names have changed.

In Southwark, for example, 25 per cent of Department for Work and Pensions records could not be matched to properties in the borough as recorded by the local authority.

The report points out that the way personal data is handled will be crucial to the success and popularity of individual registration. But the government's white paper on individual electoral registration, published in June, does not provide details of the practicalities of how data should be treated.

The government has proposed that national insurance number data should be disposed of once an identity had been verified, and the report notes that neither the Association of Electoral Administrators nor the Information Commissioner's Office raised concerns about privacy issues.

Graham Allen, chair of the committee, said: "Getting individuals to take responsibility for their own votes is the right thing to do, but it needs to be done in the right way. There are real risks in moving to a new system, not least that people with the right to vote could fall off the electoral roll in large numbers.

"The transition to individual registration will only be a true success if the electoral rolls become not only more accurate but also more complete."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.