Have you received the brown envelope from your local council in the post recently?
In my case it was hand delivered on Sunday morning. If like many people you put it ‘in the pile to deal with later’ and do not do anything about it – then you could be fined £1,000.
What you need to do when you receive the letter
Firstly the letter will be addressed to The Occupier – Why? Well the Council are not 100% sure of who lives at your address as since the last time the form was completed (yearly) people may have moved into your home, you may have moved, some children are now of age to be on the form (over 16) etc
The form is quite basic and will have the following information to be completed. This is based on my local council but generally they all will request the same information.
This will give you the option (if all details are the same) to register on-line, call the council using the automated system or post back the form in the envelope provided. If you do not do any of these as the details have changed then you need to do complete the form and send it back in the pre paid envelope. Below is some general information on what to expect on the form. if the details are different or you want to still fill it in and post.
Will cover the following:-
- It will list the name(s) of the people previously listed on the form last year
- If they are over 75 – this will need to be indicated
- Postal or Proxy Vote request
- Do you wish to be included in the Open Register?
What does the open register mean?
There are two registers The Electorial Register and The Open Register.
The electorial register is the list that has the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in all public elections. This register is used for electorial purposes only. Also it is used for other limited purposes specific to the law and this can include
- Detecting crime such as fraud
- Calling people for Jury Service (note the age you can now be called has been raised to 75)
- Checking credit applications.
The Open Register is a sample of the electorial register but not used for elections. It can be brought by any person or company. It can be used by businesses or charities to confirm name and address details (ie you get more junk mail). By opting out of the open register will not stop you voting. It will only include your basic details.
This section will request you to complete the following for everyone registered at your address – this will include:-
- Full name
- Telephone number (this is optional) but can be used if there is a query on the form
- Email address (again optional)
This will include:
- Is the property empty?
- Is the address a sole business premises
- Is it a second home
The final details will include:-
- Date you completed the form
- Your full name
- Telephone nUmber (optional)
- Email (optional)
- A blank box to confirm is someone is signing for the resident (ie they cannot sign)
Can I just call the council?
If all the details are the same as last year you can then call the number on the form – the number is automated and you are just required to enter the code(s) quoted on your form as that is for your home only. Then the job is done.
Who is eligible to vote
- Residents who usually live in the UK
- Everyone over the age of 16 (but cannot vote until they reach age 18)
- You must be a British, Irish or EU Citizen
- or a Commonwealth Citizen who as leave to enter or remain in the UK or who does not require such leave.
Does everyone have to sign the form?
No only one person needs to sign but they must be on the form. You can enter all the details. However do let everyone in your household know you are completing the form.
Can I really be fined £1,000?
Yes – completing the form is a legal requirement. If you do not return the form then sometime in Sept or Oct you will receive a reminder and then a few weeks later a Electorial Registration Canvasser will call to collect the form. This is normal as often people are away when the form arrives. You can either complete the form while the Canvasser is there (please note they will have formal ID from the Council) or they will provide you with another pre paid envelope to post at a later date. After all it may not be convenient to complete when they arrive. This is normal and as long as you do eventually send the form back all will be well. The only time you could be fined is if you actually refuse to complete the form.
So make sure you fill in the form as soon as you can. It is one less thing to worry about.