Feeds

Data-matching won't help much with electoral registration

Report: Addresses may not match between records

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.