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Electoral Register Privacy

The electoral register is a list of the names and addresses of every registered voter. To keep this list up to date we collect and process data. The electoral register also has rules regarding who can view or use the information. Below are details on what information we keep and who this information may be shared with.

Who we are

The Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer for Ashford is the Data Controller for information provided in connection with the electoral register or elections. If you have any queries about how we use your information or what information we hold you can contact us at vote@ashford.gov.uk or by calling 01233 330402 or writing to us at Electoral Services, Civic Centre, Ashford, Kent TN23 1PL.

If you would like to know more about data protection you can contact the Data Protection Officer for Ashford Borough Council at FOI@ashford.gov.uk

Why we process your data

We use the information we collect to compile the electoral register and deliver elections. The lawful basis to collect the information is that it is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest and exercise of official authority as vested in the Electoral Registration Officer as set out in the Representation of the People Act 1983 and associated regulations.

Some of the information that is collected is classified as special category personal data. This is processed for reason of substantial public interest as set out in the Representation of the People Act 1983 and associated regulations.

All information provided to us is stored securely and only staff with appropriate training will deal with documents containing personal or sensitive information. Your details will be kept and updated in accordance with our legal obligations and in line with statutory retention periods.

Your Rights under the Data Protection Act

You have the right to be told if we have made a mistake whilst processing your data and we will self-report breaches to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) www.ico.org.uk. You also have the right to make a complaint to the ICO if you feel we have not handled your data correctly in any way.

If you have provided us information to use with your consent, such as a mobile number to contact you in case of query, you have the right to withdraw this consent and we will remove the information from our records.

You have the right to find out what information is held about you on paper and computer records. This is known as right of 'subject access' and applies to your electoral services records along with all other personal records. You are entitled to receive a copy of your records free of charge within one month. In certain circumstances access to your records may be limited, for example, if the records you have asked for contain information relating to another person.

Who we may share your data with

The information we hold is only disclosed where necessary and where we have a legal basis to do so. This includes:

  • To contracted printers to print your poll cards, postal vote packs and other electoral forms or letters
  • To other Electoral Registration Officers so they can remove you from a previous address
  • When the law requires us to pass on information under special circumstances
  • Crime prevention or detection including to law enforcement agencies and as part of the National Fraud Initiative
  • Where a formal court order has been issued

As well as the above we are required by law to provide the electoral register to recipients who are entitled to receive it – for example:

  • To the Jury Central Summoning Bureau indicating those persons who are aged 76 or over and are no longer eligible for jury service
  • To registered political parties, elected representatives, candidates, agents and other permitted participants who are able to use it for specific electoral purposes such as campaigning
  • Credit reference agencies, the British Library, UK Statistics Authority, the Electoral Commission and other statutory recipients of the Electoral Register
  • Details of whether you have voted (but not how you have voted) are also available to candidates or political parties after an election

The electoral register is a public document and can be viewed by the public whilst observed by a member of our team. It cannot be copied or searched by search engine.

We are also required by law to sell a version of the electoral register known as the 'open register'.

The electoral register and open register

There are two registers. Why?

Using information received from the public, registration officers keep two registers – the electoral register and the open register (also known as the edited register).

The electoral register

The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. The register is used for electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as:

• detecting crime (e.g. fraud)

• calling people for jury service

• checking credit applications.

The open register

The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.

You can change whether your details appear on the open register at any time by contacting our office, email us at vote@ashford.gov.uk or write to us at Electoral Services, Civic Centre, Tannery Lane, Ashford, Kent TN23 1PL remembering to include your name and address.

The annual canvass

Following changes made to the annual canvass process in 2020, increased e-communications and telephone canvassing is now encouraged. Telephone numbers and email addresses held by the Electoral Registration Officer or held in other compatible council data sets may be used to contact you to ensure the efficiency of the annual canvass. Telephone numbers and email addresses will always remain confidential and will not be included within the electoral or open register.