AEA Conference Northern Ireland: Is this the future? Graham Shields Chief Electoral Officer. Jocelyn McCarley Assistant Chief Electoral Officer

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1 AEA Conference 2015 Northern Ireland: Is this the future? Graham Shields Chief Electoral Officer Jocelyn McCarley Assistant Chief Electoral Officer

2 Presentation Contents Role of the Chief Electoral Officer Role of the Electoral Office for NI IER: Introduction, Impact on Stakeholders, Impact on Registration Continuous Registration Lessons Learned Future opportunities and challenges Questions

3 Role of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Post created in 1972 Electoral Registration Officer for all constituencies in Northern Ireland Returning Officer for all elections and referendums in Northern Ireland Provide an annual recommendation to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland re a canvass Adviser to the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland

4 Role of the Electoral Office for NI (EONI) To support the Chief Electoral Officer in the delivery of his statutory functions 52.5 full-time staff 7 regional offices servicing 18 constituencies and 1.26million electors

5 The Electoral Fraud (NI) Act 2002 Individual Registration replaced Household Registration Introduction of photo identification for voting The Representation of the People (NI) Regulations 2002 Removed the carry forward of electors to the new register

6 Interpretation of Individual Electoral Registration : Requirement to complete an individual (paper) registration form Requirement to provide personal identifiers Requirement for photographic identification when voting Abolition of the annual canvass Adoption of continuous registration

7 Photographic Identification: Prescribed forms of photo ID suitable for voting purposes: Driving Licence (UK, Irish, EU) Passport (UK, Irish, EU) Various forms of Travel Pass Electoral Identity Card

8 Electoral Identity Card MINI VERSION OF MAIN PHOTOGRAPH WITH EONI LOGO HOLOGRAPHIC OVERLAY MICROTEXT AROUND PHOTOGRAPH CUSTOM EONI HOLOGRAPHIC OVERLAY (FRONT OF CARD ONLY)

9 Impact of Changes: Elections Eradication of personation Registration Approximately 120,000 (10%) of entries removed from register in first year Progressive declining in response to the annual canvass 2002: 86% 2006: 81.7%

10 Impact Electors Registration some electors did not know their National Insurance Number or Date of Birth, but no major problems Photographic ID: readily adopted by voters Electoral ID card proved very popular (253,000 issued Jan 2003 Dec 2014) Greater confidence in the electoral system

11 Impact Political Parties Initial concerns that individual registration made it more difficult to get people onto the register Satisfied with the arrangements for voter identification

12 Impact on Tax Payers 2002 IER canvass cost approx twice as much as the old Household registration process

13 Impact: Electoral Administrators Initial increase in workload x 2 canvass forms 30% increase in canvass staff increase in data input requirements Reduction in response to annual canvass and decline in the accuracy and completeness of the register

14 2006 Legislation Northern Ireland (Misc. Provisions) Act 2006 Introduction of continuous registration Abolition of the annual canvass Periodic canvass (at least once every 10 years) Statutory registration objectives

15 Continuous Registration Using data supplied from prescribed official sources to assist in maintaining the accuracy and completeness of the electoral register

16 Continuous Registration Data Sources Local Councils Dept of Work and Pensions Business Services Organisation Northern Ireland Housing Executive Registrar General Coroner s Office HM Prison Service Schools and Further Education Colleges Northern Ireland Office

17 Continuous Registration Schools Initiative Started in post primary schools in NI visited by EONI staff Sept-Dec Year 13 & 14 pupils are registered Approx. 50% of all attainers added to the register by this process each year

18 How Effective is Continuous Registration? + Regular updates from official data sources provide accurate information about potential new registrants and those whose registration information has changed (name, address etc) - Poor response rate to mailouts (particularly from young people and those living in socially deprived areas)

19 How effective is Continuous Registration? Electoral Commission report Continuous Electoral Registration in Northern Ireland (Nov 2012) April 2012 Parliamentary register assessed to be 73% complete ( %) 78% accurate ( %) Dec 2013 Parliamentary register (post 2013 canvass) 88.3% complete > 99% accurate

20 Maintaining the Register Being Proactive Registration and ID clinics Free prize draws Mini-canvasses Targeted activity focused on hard-to-reach groups (elderly, new British citizens)

21 Lessons Learned IER and Continuous Registration Requires a balance between employing Continuous Registration and the frequency of canvasses Continuous registration is expensive but cheaper than an annual canvass Continuous registration means being proactive and innovative Dealing with non-respondents prosecution does not work the tone and content of letters is important Data-matching is a powerful tool Targeted canvassing for the future

22 Future Opportunities and Challenges Budgetary pressures Organisational restructuring and downsizing Introduction of online IER Collaboration with other statutory bodies (e.g. Local Councils, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency)

23 Questions?

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