An electoral roll (variously called an electoral register, voters roll, poll book or other description) is a compilation that lists persons who are entitled to vote for particular elections in a particular jurisdiction. The list is usually broken down by electoral districts, and is primarily prepared to assist election officials at polling places. Most jurisdictions maintain permanent electoral rolls, which are updated continuously or periodically (such as France which updates them annually), while some jurisdictions compile new electoral rolls before each election. Electoral rolls are the end result of a process of voter registration. In most jurisdictions, voter registration (and being listed on an electoral roll) is a prerequisite for voting at an election. Some jurisdictions do not require voter registration, and do not use electoral rolls, such as the State of North Dakota in the United States. In those jurisdictions a voter must provide identification and proof of entitlement to vote before being permitted to vote.
Electoral rolls and voter registration serve a number of functions, especially to streamline voting on election day. Voter registration can be used to detect electoral fraud by enabling authorities to verify an applicant's identity and entitlement to a vote, and to ensure a person doesn't vote multiple times. In jurisdictions where voting is compulsory, the electoral roll is used to indicate who has failed to vote. In some jurisdictions, people to be selected for jury or other civil duties are chosen from an electoral roll.
Most jurisdictions close updating of electoral rolls some period, commonly 14 or 28 days, before an election, but some jurisdictions may allow registration at the same time as attending a polling station to vote; Australia closes its rolls 7 days after an election is called, rather than with reference to the election day.
Traditionally, electoral rolls were maintained in paper form, either as loose-leaf folders or in printed pages, but nowadays electronic electoral rolls are increasingly being adopted. Similarly, the number of countries adopting biometric voter registration has steadily increased. As of 2016, half of the countries in Africa and Latin America use biometric technology for their electoral rolls.
Australia maintains a permanent electoral roll, which is used for federal elections, by-elections and referendums. It also forms the basis of state (except in Western Australia, which compiles its own) and local electoral rolls.
Enrolment is compulsory for all Australian citizens over the age of 18 years (with the exception of Norfolk Island, where enrolment is voluntary). Residents in Australia who had been enrolled as British subjects in 1984, though not Australian citizens, can continue to be enrolled. (These comprise about 9% of the electoral roll.) Normally, enrolment and change of details requires the lodgement of a form; but since 2009, New South Wales automatically updates enrolment details onto the state roll, but not the federal roll, from various government departmental sources. State civil registrars are required to supply information, for example relating to death of a person, to enable names of deceased persons to be removed from electoral rolls.
When an election is called, a date for the “close of roll” is also announced, on which date processing of enrolments and changes of details to the roll is suspended. Enrolment or change of details can be done online or by completing a form and sending it using regular mail, which must arrive by the deadline.
Currently, the electoral roll records just the name and address of the voter, although in previous years occupation was also recorded. Since 21 July 2004 the Commonwealth electoral roll cannot be sold in any format. It has not been produced in printed format since 1985, when it changed to publication on microfiche. Today, it is only produced in an electronic format, and can only be viewed at an AEC or state electoral commission offices, each of which holds a copy of the electoral roll for the entire country. These arrangements try to strike a balance between privacy of the voters and the publication of the roll, which is integral to the conduct of free and fair elections, enabling participants to verify the openness and accountability of the electoral process and object to the enrolment of any elector. The elector information is provided to political parties, members of Parliament and candidates.
Belgian citizens over the age of 18 who are registered in the population registers of each municipality are included on a voters' list.
Foreign nationals may apply to be registered on the voters’ list for municipal elections, and nationals of the European Union may register for elections for the European Parliament. Approval as a voter remains valid for subsequent elections (unless waived in writing) and in the event of a change of residence in Belgium.
Each municipality maintains a permanent electoral list which is updated annually. Only registered voters can vote. A complementary list is prepared for nationals of a Member State of the European Union for French ballots open to them, namely for European and municipal elections. Each voter has an obligation to be registered on only one electoral list, but there is no penalty, other than being prevented from voting.
Since November 2009, pilot online registration has been permitted for a few municipalities, but was expected to expand.
The electoral roll in Hong Kong is maintained by the Registration and Electoral Office (REO). The final register is available every year on 25 July, except for years in which elections for the territory's district councils are held, when the final register is available on 15 September. All permanent residents of the territory, a status which required seven years of continuous residence, are eligible to be registered voters regardless of nationality or citizenship.
In India, publishing and updating of the electoral roll is the responsibility of the Election Commission of India, each state's chief electoral officers, and each state's election commission. These government bodies update and publish the electoral roll every year, making it available for download from official government websites.
- Total voters: 866,913,278.
- Men: 451,966,704.
- Women: 414,912,901.
- Third gender: 33,673.
|No.||State/Territory name||Men||Women||Third gender|
|10.||Jammu and Kashmir||3904982||3548312||45|
|30.||Andaman and Nicobar||146524||131464||0|
|32.||Dadra and Nagar haveli||122184||105399||0|
|33.||Daman and Diu||58698||57861||0|
The electoral register in Ireland is maintained by the local authorities and all residents that have reached 18 years of age in the state may register at the address in which they are 'ordinarily resident'. Each November a draft register is published after house-to-house enquiries. The register then comes into force the following February after time for appeals and additions. A supplementary register is published which allows voters to make alterations (usually change of address or becoming 18 years of age) prior to voting day. Postal votes are restricted to certain occupations, students and the disabled or elderly resident away from their home. There is also provision for special voters that are usually physically disabled.
While all residents can be registered voting in Ireland depends on citizenship. All residents are entitled to vote in local authority elections. Irish and EU citizens may vote in European parliament elections. Irish citizens and such other persons as are defined by law may vote in elections to Dáil Éireann,(any person entitled to vote for members of Dail Eireann ie entitled to vote for the president) for the President and in constitutional referendums.
The electoral register for elections to the six university seats in Seanad Éireann is maintained by the National University of Ireland and University of Dublin. Irish citizens that are graduates of these universities over 18 years of age may register. Voting is by postal vote and residence in the state is not required.
Electoral rolls have been used in New Zealand since the late nineteenth century, and some are available in public libraries for genealogical research. Traditionally, the Māori indigenous people have had separate electoral registration; electoral rolls for the Māori were introduced in 1948. In 1975 electors of Māori descent were given the choice of whether to register on the Maori or "general" electoral registers, a choice which allows those who wish for the former to vote for MPs from Māori electorates.
Parts of this article (those related to individual voter registration) need to be updated. (June 2016)
Within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, the right to register for voting extends to all British, Irish, Commonwealth and European Union citizens. British citizens[clarification needed] living overseas may register for up to 15 years after they were last registered at an address in the UK. Citizens of the European Union (who are not Commonwealth citizens or Irish citizens) can vote in European and local elections in the UK, elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies (if they live in those areas) and some referendums (based on the rules for the particular referendum); they are not able to vote in British Parliamentary general elections. The minimum age for voting in Scotland, and Wales (for the devolved administration and local government elections only) is 16. In England and Northern Ireland , the minimum voting age is 18. It is possible for someone to register to vote before this birthday, as long as they will reach the voting age before the next revision of the register.
The register is compiled for each polling district, and held by the electoral registration office. In the United Kingdom, this office is located at the local council (district, borough, or unitary level). In Scotland, the offices are sometimes located with councils, but may also be separate. Northern Ireland has a central Electoral Office run by the government.
At present, the register is compiled by sending an annual canvas form to every house (a process introduced by Representation of the People Act 1918). A fine of up to £1,000 (level 3 on the Standard scale) can be imposed for giving false information. Up to 2001, the revised register was published on 15 February each year, based on a qualifying date of 10 October, and a draft register published on 28 November the previous year. From 2001 as a result of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the annual 'revised' register is published on 1 December, although it is possible to update the register with new names each month between January and September.
The register has two formats. The full version of the register is available for supervised inspection by anyone, by legal right. It is this register that is used for voting, and its supply and use is limited by law. Copies of this register are available to certain groups and individuals, such as credit reference agencies and political parties.
An 'edited' or 'open' version of the register, which omits those people who have chosen to 'opt out', can be purchased by anyone for any purpose. Some companies provide online searchable access to the edited register for a fee.
The Information Commissioner's Office, Electoral Commission, Local Government Association and the Association of Electoral Administrators have called for the abolition of the edited register. The organisations believe that the register should only be used for purposes related to elections and referenda, and that the sale of voters' personal details is a practice that may discourage people from registering to vote. The Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee recommended the abolition of the edited register in its report on the Government's proposals for individual electoral registration and other electoral administration provisions. Other organisations, including credit reference agencies, debt collection agencies and direct marketing companies, have argued for the retention of the edited register. However, notwithstanding the above, Mark Harper MP, as Minister for Political and Constitutional Affairs, announced during the committee stage of the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill 2012–13 on 25 June 2012 that the edited register will be retained.
The full register contains the following information:
- elector number (one or more characters indicating the polling district, followed by a number)
- elector's name and address
- date of birth (if the voter will become eligible to vote during the time period that the register covers)
- if the elector has requested a postal vote
A 'Marked Register' is a copy of the register that has a mark by the name of each elector who has voted. It serves as the record of who has voted in the election, and it is kept for a year after the election. After an election anyone can inspect the marked register, and certain people can purchase a copy of it. The marked register does not indicate who electors voted for, nor does it contain ballot paper numbers.
Plans for a Coordinated Online Register of Electors (CORE) are underway; the intention being to standardise local registers and permit central data access.
It was suggested that the register data could be taken from the data that was to be held on the proposed Citizen Information Project or on the National Identity Register. In January 2005 the Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister began a joint inquiry into reforming the registration system. In January 2010 the Identity Documents Act 2010 repealed the Identity Cards Act 2006 which set up the National Identity Register.
Despite widespread calls for its introduction, the Electoral Administration Act 2006 did not provide for individual elector registration, on the justification that registration levels would fall. However, the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 introduced a move from a system of household registration to a system of individual electoral registration in Great Britain.
In the United States electoral rolls are commonly referred to as poll books. They have been used since the founding to determine voting eligibility. Today, poll books are a list of persons who are eligible to vote in an election. In the United States, the roll is usually managed by a local entity such as a county or parish. However, the data used for electoral rolls may be provided by statewide sources. While traditional poll books are printed voter rolls, more recently electronic pollbooks have come into favor. Computerized electoral rolls allow for larger numbers of voters to be handled easily and allows for more flexibility in poll locations and the electoral process.
- Electronic pollbook
- Biometric voter registration
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
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- Joint Rolls Arrangement between Commonwealth, State and Territories Archived 20 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine
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- Electoral Rolls at the Christchurch City Libraries website
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