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Finding people the right way

Electoral Roll Searching 2013 Persons Address

2013 Electoral registers in the UK are a simple cost effective way of looking up a person, address and other residents who may be living with them at the identified address either now or in the past. In essence the electoral roll records are to the general public what search credit reference agencies are to professional tracing agents.

The process of bringing electoral roll records to the digital age is done by collating the records into a database covering England, Wales, Scotland (Inc the Islands) Northern Ireland, Channel islands (Guernsey & Jersey). Electoral Roll also known as Voters registers do not normally have a date of birth attached to them when collected and processed by the local council registration officers. We hold over 20 million full date of births and over 11 million death records including thousands from the 2006 period onwards. All these records have been collated within our database to provide the most accurate search results available. Our electoral roll records stretch 20 years longer than many of the online people search websites our electoral registers are from 1980 2013. Should you need to go back further in time especially when undertaking family history searches then the only realistic option is the the British Library. The British Library holds a complete set of UK wide voters rolls from 1947 onwards, and older electoral registers are held mostly by local archives.

What are electoral registers?

Essentially they are a basic public record of people and addresses and are used for a variety of purposes including the prevention and detection of crime to direct marketing useage. UK Electoral registers are lists of names of those entitled to vote at an election during the lifetime of the register. There formal name is ’Register of Electors’ but they are more commonly known as electoral registers; they are also frequently called electoral rolls or lists, or voters’ registers, rolls or lists. The term ’electors’ lists’ or ’list of electors’ was also used prior to 2001 but, in law, this had a special meaning. These were the provisional lists of electors produced some months before the definitive register that could be checked by interested parties for accuracy and potential alteration. They could be produced either as a draft electoral register or in the form of three lists - List A, the current register; List B, names to be added; and List C, names to be deleted.

Northern Ireland

The system is slightly different in Northern Ireland where household registration was replaced with a new system of individual registration in 2002. The Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 was primarily introduced to overcome impersonation and electoral abuse, which were widely perceived to occur in Northern Ireland. Under the new rules, those having their name included on the register must provide personal identification information in the form of their date of birth, national insurance number and signature. A system of rolling registration also operates in Northern Ireland.

The registers are compiled by local authorities and are produced for units called ’Polling Districts’ which aggregate to form parliamentary constituencies.

Electoral Registers; since when and why?

Electoral registration was first introduced in 1832 and registers have been issued for each parliamentary constituency every year since then, with certain exceptions.

Registration was suspended in both World Wars and there are no registers for 1916 and 1917 (1915-17 in Scotland) and from 1940 to 1944 inclusive.

From 1919 to 1926 inclusive there were two registers a year called the ’Spring’ and ’Autumn’ registers. There were also two registers in 1945 and 1946; in addition to the regular registers in October, there was a special register in May 1945 for the general election and a supplementary register of service voters in March 1946.

There were also two registers in 1868 and 1885. The January registers in both years were supposed to last the calendar year but were superseded in both cases by new registers on revised constituency boundaries in November. The latter registers lasted until the end of the following year and are identified as ’1868/69’ and ’1885/86’; otherwise registers were identified by the year in which they came into force even if they spanned part of two years until 2003. From 2002, registers have come into force on December 1st. The register which came into force in December 2002 was identified as ’2003’ and this practice has continued subsequently, so that the register which came into force in December 2010 is identified as ’2011’.

As a consequence of the Representation of the People (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 (SI 1871) as amended by SI 2006/752 and corresponding legislation for Scotland and Northern Ireland, two versions of the register were produced from 2003. The full version of the register contains the names of all voters and is used primarily to support the electoral process. Public access to it is strictly controlled and the data can only be used for research purposes. The edited version of the register is available for sale for commercial use for direct marketing, advertising, etc. It omits the names of electors who have exercised their right to opt out to protect their privacy.

What the British Library has...

Under the Representation of the people legislation, the British Library has received a complete set of electoral registers for the whole of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) from and including 1947. From 2003 the Library holds the full, but not the edited, version of the register. It also has a complete set of registers for 1937 and (except for Northern Ireland) for 1938. Apart from a few Scottish constituencies, the Library has no registers for 1932 to 1936 and 1939 and, apart from the odd London, some Northern Ireland and the same few Scottish constituencies, it has none of the four registers issued during 1945 and 1946.

For the period 1832 to 1931, only a general indication can be given of the British Library’s holdings which nevertheless total some 20,000 registers - it is modest to 1885, good from then until 1915 and modest again from 1918 to 1931. A complete inventory of the British Library’s holdings is listed in Parliamentary constituencies and their registers since 1832 which also lists non-parliamentary registers (burgess rolls, jurors lists, valuation rolls, etc.) and poll books held by the Library. This book was originally published in 1998 and updated in 2010 to reflect constituency boundary changes introduced in Scotland in 2005, in Wales in 2007 and in England at the 2010 General Election.

What do Voters Registers contain?

Separate registers are produced for each constituency. Up to and including 2002, these listed everyone entitled to vote within them. From 2003, two versions of the register are being produced: full and edited. The edited version is available for sale and omits names of electors who have exercised their right to opt out to protect their privacy. Details have always included names of electors, surname and first forenames as a minimum, and ’place of abode’ (not necessarily whole addresses) and, until 1948, the nature of the qualification to vote. A certain amount of additional information may be included. Nowadays this is mainly the date of the birthday for those reaching voting age during the life of the register but formerly jury service qualification and status as an absent voter were indicated and sometimes other details. For several years from 1918 service details of absent voters were often provided and, from 1885 to 1915, for those qualified on the lodger’s franchise, the landlord’s name (or, more usually, the landlady’s), the weekly rent and the number of rooms rented were included. Good luck with your search using electoral roll records. Please be aware in 2013 over 44% of the population are not recorded on the 2013 electoral roll registers.

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