Care urged ahead of Scotland voter roll changes

Thousands of people registered in the run up to the independence referendum.  Picture: Ian Rutherford

Thousands of people registered in the run up to the independence referendum. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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CHANGES to the electoral registration system will have to be “carefully implemented” after tens of thousands of Scots added their names to the voters roll in the run-up to last month’s independence referendum, the head of the Electoral Commission in Scotland has said.

Changes are being made to replace the existing method of household registration, which has been in place for almost a century, with a new system which will require everyone to register individually.

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Andy O’Neill, the head of the Scotland Office at the Electoral Commission, warned that after the massive surge in registration prior to the referendum, care would have to be taken to ensure people do not lose their right to vote.

He said: “The change to the registration system must be carefully implemented, especially after large numbers of people registered to vote just before the referendum. All Electoral Registration Officers have detailed plans in place to reach local residents and inform them of this change.”

The majority of people in Scotland who are registered to vote at the moment should transfer automatically on to the new system. But some people may need to provide some extra information - such as their National Insurance number and date of birth.

But Mr O’Neill said no-one would come off the current electoral register because of the change “until after the 2015 UK Parliamentary general election at the earliest”.

The changes will also see people in Scotland able to register to vote online for the first time, with Mr O’Neill describing this as a “huge step forward” in making registering to vote “quick, easy and convenient”.

He said: “It’s important everyone looks out for a letter from their local Electoral Registration Officer that will tell you if you need to do anything. If you want to find out more you can visit www.gov.uk/yourvotematters or call 0800 3 280 280.”

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