IVR: Politics prevents progress.

Filed under: Politics,Privacy — lenand @ 10:22 pm
Tags: , ,

Eurim has produced excellent evidence from overseas to feed into the the Individual Voter Registration (IVR) programme – to be introduced in 2014 under the Political Parties and Elections Act (2009).

The big questions are whether the objectives will be met:

  • greater accuracy of electoral registers
  • greater citizen confidence in the democratic system
  • less scope for fraud.

Both the full report and the summary from Eurim had four main findings:

  1. Two distinct trends are discernible in the responses from overseas, between those countries which treat the electoral register almost exclusively for electoral purposes (‘Commonwealth’ or ‘common law’ heritage) and those that create a multi-purpose population register, either at national or municipal level (‘continental’ heritage).
  2. Compulsory registration does not work unless underpinned by other processes: e.g. in Australia large numbers of voters may remain unregistered.
  3. All sampled common law and continental countries require proof of identity to register the voter; only the UK does not.
  4. Countries that operate data matching to maintain a population register, to transfer data with other public bodies, or that allow citizens to view or amend their personal data, do so through secured systems.

The UK is a long way behind most countries.  It’s as though we want to remain backward by rejecting perfectly reasonable solutions.  We mistrust public sector stewardship of personal data.

  • We don’t yet know the results of the data matching trials.  Our experience with Contactpoint should demonstrate how difficult this must be.
  • We don’t have agreement on how to issue credentials for eID.  There’s a battle about whether a root identity is needed or not.
  • Politicians have a morbid fear of a totalitarian government taking hold of registers and creating a single database of all citizens.  The national Identity Card had a lot of opposition, not just No2ID.

Politicians are the key to making progress – but leaving IVR up to over 400 separate voter registration authorities to select their own software doesn’t augur well for meeting the deadline of the 2015 General Election.



  1. […] programmes that rely on computer information for success eg Universal Credit, Health Service ICT, Individual Voter Registration and Identity […]

    Pingback by 7DIG: Identify Risk with Confidence « Quarkside — 20/10/2011 @ 9:49 am | Reply

  2. […] some time in the future, this service could stimulate interest from the Electoral Registration Transformation Programme (ERTP, IVR and EIR are among the abbreviations). You read it here first. […]

    Pingback by Secure money saver « Quarkside — 28/10/2011 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

  3. Another big question is greater completeness of electoral registers. The removal of the penalty that exists under the current system for failure to respond to a form sent by an ERO is seen by some as a serious erosion of the civic duty to register to vote.

    Comment by Dave Wright — 01/11/2011 @ 9:20 am | Reply

  4. You are correct Dave,

    At a meeting with SOCITM members in September, the opinion was that the numbers on electoral rolls would drop significantly. Is it disenfranchisement? With a mobile and uninvolved electorate the EROs could slowly lose track of voters.

    The thing most like to encourage individual registration is when somebody finds they can’t get a bank account or credit card because they are not on the electoral register. There needs to be an incentive to register – and this would appear currently to be in the realm of the private sector.

    Comment by lenand — 01/11/2011 @ 12:02 pm | Reply

  5. […] or Individual Voter Registration, will have a huge democratic impact if it is implemented in time for a General Election in […]

    Pingback by IVR: Invisible Voter Registration « Quarkside — 22/11/2011 @ 9:38 am | Reply

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