— Birmingham Newsroom (@BCCNewsRoom) October 5, 2016
Robert Connelly, head of electoral services at Birmingham City Council, looks at how the council is taking an innovative new approach to ensure as many people as possible are able to vote in elections
I was pleased to welcome Cabinet Minister Chris Skidmore to the Council House this week to talk about the work we are doing to improve the way we carry out our annual canvass to ensure that the Electoral Register is up to date.
Birmingham is one of three local authorities piloting new approaches to the annual canvass. Here in Birmingham, we have used the council’s ‘data warehouse’ – our database which includes details such as Council Tax records – to ensure that the information we hold matches that on the Electoral Register.
This enables us to identify those whose details may have changed and we can then target them directly, either by email, post or by knocking on their doors, to ensure that their information is up to date and, crucially, they are able to vote in the next election.
As well as ensuring that as many people as possible can play their part in the democratic process, this is also helping us make significant financial savings by not having to send out as many letters or conduct as many home visits – we have already saved an estimated £100,000 this year and believe we will save up to £200,000 annually going forward.
The Minister praised the proactive work we have been doing as a council to reach the many different communities living in Birmingham, including the appointment of an engagement officer.
I would also like to take this opportunity to remind anyone who has recently moved house or is about to do so to ensure that we have your up-to-date details at the earliest opportunity. Don’t lose your right to vote because of something that can easily be avoided.