by Canterbury city council chief executive Colin Carmichael
On Thursday, May 7, you will be able to vote in the general city council and – in some parts of the district – parish council elections. Unless, that is, you haven’t registered to vote. Because if you’re not on the electoral register by Monday, April 20, the opportunity to vote at a polling station, or to cast a proxy or postal vote, will not be open to you. And if you do turn up to vote, you will be turned away without even getting close to a ballot paper. Last year, the government introduced a new system that gave people individual control over their own registration. You may have seen the adverts for Individual Electoral Registration, or IER. It means you can now register yourself online in just a few minutes. All you need is your name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number. It really is that simple. The website is www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
What you may not know is that if you haven’t registered, not only will you be unable to vote, but you may also be declined a loan or a mortgage. This is because lenders use the electoral register to check you live where you say you do. And even if you do not intend to vote on May 7 – which is obviously your right – you should still make sure you are registered. Over the past few months, our electoral services team has written several times to all households, followed up by visits to those who did not respond, in order to encourage registration. We are also working very closely with the universities to get as many students on the register, too. We do not want to turn anyone away from polling stations on election day. But if you’re not registered, that’s exactly what we’ll have to do. Visit our website at www.canterbury.gov.uk/elections2015 for important information and key dates for this year’s elections.
Herne Bay Gazette, April 9th 2015