Electoral Services Annual Canvass

Annual Canvass 2023

Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) are required to keep the register of eligible voters up to date. This is called the annual canvass and it takes place each year between July and November. The ERO’s contact every household to find out if the details on the electoral register are correct. The revised Register of Electors is then published on 1 December.

The Annual Canvass was reformed in 2020 and is running in a slightly different way to previous years.  Please read the notes below so you are aware of the changes and how they might affect your household.  It is hoped the reformed canvass process will be simpler and clearer for citizens.

As in previous years the annual canvass allows us to check:

  • electors who are no longer living in the property
  • new residents at the address
  • people who will become 18 the following year
  • any corrections or changes needed to resident’s details

It is particularly important that anyone who has moved address recently looks out for the form and checks whether they are registered.

Who can be included on the register

You need to be included on the register if you are:

  • aged 16 and over
  • a British, Irish, European or qualifying Commonwealth citizen
  • living in Reading Borough

Reformed Canvass

Stage 1 – Data Matching

  • The Electoral Register is sent securely to the Department of Working Pensions (DWP) database to be matched in June.  Electors names and address will be matched against National Insurance details and the information held by the DWP.  In addition to this an ERO has the discretion to use local data (e.g. Council Tax records) to perform a matching exercise as well.
  • If all the registered people at a property can be matched with either of these databases the property will be sent down Route 1 canvass.  If no changes to your household you will not be required to respond to the Canvass Communication A form.
  • If there are any people at a property that cannot be matched the property will be sent down Route 2 canvass.  This will require a response to the Canvass Communication B form even if your details have not changed.
  • Student Halls of Residence, Care homes, Nursing Homes and all other properties that have a responsible person i.e. a duty manager will be sent down Route 3 canvass.

Stage 2 – Routes of communication

Your household will be contacted in different ways:

  • Firstly, Canvass Communications by post – a form and depending on the route your household is being sent down will commence on 13 July 2022, and may or may not require a response by your household. Please read the form carefully for instructions of how to proceed.
  • Canvass Communications by telephone
  • Canvass Communications by knocking on your door or contacting you by telephone
  • (NB: If we do not receive a required response from the forms we send we will make every attempt to get a response from you, this may be via reminder forms, the telephone or a visit to your property.)

Please help us to save time and money by responding to this form as quickly as possible if you need to.  Please do this online or by phone, if possible.   Please only respond by post if you are unable to go online or telephone us.  Please note even if you do not want to register to vote, you still need to respond to your canvass communication giving the details of everyone at your property that is eligible to register.

Canvass communications by post

We will write to you with a form and please read it carefully. The letter will tell you whether you need to respond or not. In all cases, if any details have changed on your household form you will be required to respond. (NB: Some electors will not be required to respond if there are no changes but the form will make this clear if you fall in to this category.)

If you need to respond the easiest way is to online, by visiting www.householdresponse.com/reading and entering the security code printed on your letter.  You can also respond to us by phone on 0800 197 9871.

  • record a “no change” response using the automated phone line (0800 197 9871), or
  • you can use our text service (send text to 80212). Text ‘NOCHANGE’ followed by your two-part security code.
  • Only return your canvass communication form by post if you are required to respond and are unable to use any of the online services, or phone services, phone or text options. Our address is: Reading Borough Council, Civic Offices, Bridge Street, Reading RG1 2LU

Canvass communications by telephone

If you have previously given us a telephone number, we may use that to contact you to ask you to confirm the details of your household if you have not responded to our first enquiry by post.

Canvass communications by door knocking

If we haven’t heard back from your, we may send a canvasser to knock on your door.  Each canvasser will be carrying official ID.

If you have responded promptly to the first form you should not receive a door knock.  The canvasser will have a copy of the form that each household or individual needs to complete and the canvasser will provide all help and assistance to ensure forms are correctly completed.

If the canvasser calls at your address when you are not home they will leave a form for you to complete. Please complete it straightaway using one of the services as listed on the form. Once a response has been recorded, the canvasser will not need to call at your address again.

Reasons to register

There are many reasons to register including:

  • to participate in elections and referendums and therefore influence those who make the decisions that affect you on a daily basis
  • it may be harder to obtain credit, mortgages, loans and so on if you don’t register – the electoral register is one piece of evidence used by the financial services industry when authorising applications
  • a quick response from you saves you and the council money, as the council won’t have to pay canvassers to call at your property
  • Please note that registering online or returning an Invitation To Register form does not guarantee that we will be able to add you to the register of electors immediately. We may contact you to request further information so we can confirm your identity.

Mistakes on forms

If you have responded to a canvass communication and realise that you made a mistake, please contact Electoral Services. Email: elections@reading.gov.uk or phone: 0118 937 3717 and advise which information was entered incorrectly and what the correct information should be.

Invitation to Register

  • An Invitation To Register (ITR) form is sent out to anybody whose details have been added to the canvass communication but who hasn’t registered to vote online.
  • Responses to a canvass communication may notify us that a new person is living at a property and that they are eligible to register. We send them the ITR to collect information required to complete the voter registration process. People who receive an ITR can complete their voter registration online at www.gov.uk/registertovote
  • We ask for details such as the applicant’s date of birth and National Insurance number. These details are automatically checked against records held by the Department of Work and Pensions to verify their identity.
  • You will not be able to vote if we are not able to add you to the electoral register. Register online at www.gov.uk/registertovote  or complete and return an ITR that is sent to you

Empty properties/Landlord of business premises

You still need to respond. If no one is listed on the form, please call free on 0800 197 9871 or online at www.householdresponse.com/reading (you will need the security codes from your form) to confirm the property is still empty.

If someone’s details are on the form, but the property is now empty – you can either:

  • Visit www.householdresponse.com/reading (you will need the security code from your form) or
  • Tick the property is empty box (in the “no one at address is eligible” section), sign the form and return it in the envelope provided.

Not eligible to vote

If nobody in your household is eligible to register to vote, you still need to notify us by responding to your canvass communication. You can do so online www.householdresponse.com/reading

If the canvass communication you have received is already blank, you can also either:

  • record a “no change” response using the automated phone line – phone: 0800 197 9871
  • use our text service – text ‘NOCHANGE’ followed by your two-part security code to 80212.

If you are unable to use one of the automated services, please amend the paper form and return it.

Student properties

Students can register both at their home address and university address. Students are entitled to vote at local government elections at home and in Reading. However, they are only able to vote once at a national election, so they can choose where to vote, either in Reading or at their home address.

Please add the names of any students who wish to register in Reading. If all students are registered at home, and do not wish to register in Reading, tick the “Other Reason” box (in the “no one at address is eligible” section) and state “Student Accommodation, all students registered at home address”.

You can respond by going online at www.householdresponse.com/reading and following the instructions; you will need the security code from your form to do this. Otherwise, complete the form and send it back in the envelope provided (no stamp needed).

Publication of the revised Register of Electors

All the information received during the canvass will be used to compile a revised electoral register on 1 December 2023. To be included on the register you must be registered and have returned your completed Invitation to register form by 22 November 2023.

More help or advice

Please read all of the information sent to you. If you still need advice, please contact Electoral Services on elections@reading.gov.uk or the Electoral Services helpline on:- 0118 937 3717.

Electoral Registration: Data Privacy Notice

Last updated on 05/10/2023