Register to vote
Everyone is responsible for registering themselves and by law you must register to vote or you could be fined.
- you will need your National Insurance number and date of birth; these are used to check your identity with the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP)
- once we have checked your details, you'll either receive a letter from us requesting more information or a letter to confirm that you are registered (submitting an application does not automatically mean you will be registered, several checks must be made)
- strict statutory deadlines mean you can only be added to the register if we receive your application by the required time, and we have all the information need to process it
- you can only vote in Parliamentary (national) and City of York Council (local) election once your name is on the 'register of electors'
- if you are not on the register of electors you may find it harder to get a loan, mortgage, finance agreement or even a mobile phone as certain credit reference agencies use the register to confirm stability of residence
Who can register to vote
You can only register to vote if you are:
- 18 (or will become 18 during the life of the register)
- a British, Irish, Commonwealth or European Union Member State citizen (a full list of all eligible countries provided)
- resident at a York address
Students can register to vote at both their home address and their term-time address.
Find out more about registering to vote via www.yourvotematters.
Checking you're registered to vote
Contact us if you need to check whether your name is already on the electoral register – it can take up to 5 working days (from receiving your application) for your details to be registered. Once your details are verified by DWP you’ll receive a confirmation letter. However, you do not need this letter to vote.
Updates to the register of electors
If you've changed address you need to re-register to vote to update your details - that's because the law does not allow us to use the details we hold (such as council tax records) to automatically update the register.
The register is published once a year; we undertake an 'annual canvass' to ensure the correct details are included and the electoral register is up-to-date.
The register of electors
The register of electors (sometimes called the 'electoral roll' or the 'electoral register') lists the names and addresses of everyone who's registered to vote. There are two versions of the register:
- the full register
- the open register (previously known as the edited register)
The full register
The full register lists everyone who is entitled to vote in elections. It can only be viewed on request and by appointment. By law, the full register is only available to certain people and organisations and can only be used for specified purposes. These include electoral purposes, the prevention and detection of crime and checking identities for credit applications. It is a criminal offence for this register to be used for any other purpose. Anyone inspecting the full register may only make a hand written copy of the extract they are inspecting.
The open register
A copy of the open register can be bought by anyone, and they may use it for any purpose, including marketing. You should consider your privacy and whether you want to 'opt out' of the open register.
Find out more about viewing and purchasing copies of the Register of Electors.
Opting out of the open register
When you apply to join or update the electoral register you can choose to have your name and address excluded from the open register, meaning your details can not be bought to use for marketing purposes.
You can also opt out of the open register as part of the Annual Canvass.
Alternatively, you can opt out of the open register by making a 'declaration' to the Electoral Registration Officer (the data controller), at any time, that you do not want your personal data to be used for the purposes of direct marketing, in accordance with section 11 of the Data Protection Act 1998*.
Your declaration can be made:
- by email and you must make it clear that you wish to make the declaration to opt out under section 11 of the Data Protection Act 1998 and include your full name and full address
- by telephone, stating your name and address and wish to declaration to opt out under section 11 of the Data Protection Act 1998
- by post and you must state that you wish to make the declaration to opt out under section 11 of the Data Protection Act 1998 and include your full name and full address.
*Under section 11 of the Data Protection Act 1998, an individual is entitled to prevent the processing of their personal data for the purpose of direct marketing. 'Direct marketing' is defined in the Act as meaning the communication (by whatever means) of any advertising or marketing material which is directed to particular individuals. In relation to this 'personal data' means any information which relates to a living individual who can be identified from that data or from any other information which is in the procession of, or likely to come into the possession of, the data controller (the Electoral Registration Officer of the City of York Council).