Annual canvass FAQ
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the annual canvass of households.
Frequently asked questions
Why have I received an email from you but my neighbour or a family member has received a form in the post, is the email genuine?
As part of changes made by the Cabinet Office to the way we can conduct the canvass, we are now able to contact households by email where we hold this information. The emails contain the same information as the paper forms.
Do I need to include my email address and phone number on the canvass form?
You are invited to include your email address and phone number on the canvass form, but you do not have to. We will use this information only in connection with your registration, including during the annual canvass each year. it also helps us to contact you if there is a problem.
I have already applied to register, do I need to return the canvass communication I have received too?
Yes. The canvass communication is not a registration form, but instead provides us with information on who lives in your household. This means we can invite other residents, including any 16 or 17 year-olds to register to vote if we need to.
I have already given you this information, why do I need to provide it again?
During canvass we contact over 50,000 households.
To manage this, we send information to our printers up to 14 days before the forms reach you. We must process all the responses individually. Sometimes we will send a reminder that will cross over with your response. If you are sure that we have had your response, please ignore the reminder.
However, please bear in mind that:
- we must write to you every year even if you tell us the information will not change
- electoral services are separate from other council departments, such as Council Tax, this means even if you register for Council Tax you must still respond to us
- some of the forms we send look similar but ask for different information, please complete all the different forms we send you
The details on the form are wrong
Please complete the paper form. In the address box, write your address as you think it should be written. We will look at the changes to the address when the form comes back. We cannot always change your address, but we will if we have made a mistake, or your official address has changed from what we have on record.
If we have written your name incorrectly, please write your name as it should be and we will change it.
Change of name
If you have changed your name, please write your new name on the form and we will write to you with a change of name form for you to complete.
People who are not resident
If there are people named on the form that do not live at the address, please put a line through the person's name and a note, for example:
- if they have moved out, please write 'moved away'
- if you do not know who the person is, please write 'not known'
- if they have passed away, please let us know so we can update our records
I am about to move house, what should I do with the form I have received?
Please cross your details off the paper form and leave it somewhere obvious for the people who are moving in.
If there is a form at your new address, please respond to it. If there is not a household enquiry form at your new address, then go online and register to vote at the GOV.UK register to vote page (opens in a new window).
I live in more than one place, what should I do?
Some people are allowed to register to vote at more than one address.
Common situations are:
If one address is just a holiday home, where you spend very little time, you should not register to vote there. You can tick the 'second home or holiday home' box on the form. We may write to you for more information.
Students who have a home address and a term time address can register in both places. The addresses must be in different local authority areas.
Living away for work
If you work away for long periods, you may be able to register in more than one place. The addresses must be in different local authority areas.
If you are registered to vote in more than one place you can still only vote once in each election.
If both of your addresses are in Tunbridge Wells, you should only register to vote at one of them.
I am not a UK Citizen, should I fill in the canvass form?
British, Irish, EU and qualifying Commonwealth citizens (that is those Commonwealth citizens with leave to remain in the UK or who do not require leave to remain) are entitled to register to vote in the UK.
You can check if you are eligible to vote by looking at the list of countries here in the 'who can register to vote' section of The Electoral Commission register to vote page (opens in a new window).
If your country is not on the list, please respond to the form by filling in the 'nobody eligible to vote' section of the online response website or form.
Why do you ask if I am over 76?
The Jury Service uses information from the electoral register to choose people to do jury service.
They are allowed to have this information because of the Juries Act of 1974. People who are over 76 years old do not have to do to jury service. By asking this question, people who do not have to do jury service will not be asked to do it.
If you are over 76 and the form says 'no', please cross out 'no' and write 'yes'.
If you are under 76 and the form says 'yes', please cross out 'yes' and write 'no'.
You can also change your age on the online form by following the instructions once you have logged in.
How can I check that a personal canvasser works for you?
Personal canvassers work for the Council and are fully trained to help you complete the canvass form.
They have an ID badge to confirm that they are authorised to work for us. You can ask to see their badge at any time.
You can also phone us on 01892 554024 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) and we will confirm who they are.
I have safety concerns about responding
Voting is a human right and we want to support your right to vote. We are happy to answer any questions you have about the safety of voter registration.
You can contact us, send the canvass form back with a note, or visit our other pages for more information.
The Electoral Register and your information
We will only use the information you give us for electoral purposes. We will look after personal information securely and we will follow the Data Protection Act 1998. We will not give personal information about you and other people in your household to anyone else or another organisation unless we must by law.
Anonymous registration allows people who would be at risk if their name or address were found on the electoral register, to take part in the voting system.
You can apply for anonymous entry onto the electoral register if your safety, or the safety of any other person in your household, would be at risk if your name and address appear on the electoral register. Visit The Electoral Commission register to vote anonymously page (opens in a new window) for more information.
If you do not respond to the canvass form, we will send you a reminder and after that we will send a canvasser to visit.
If you respond as soon as we send the first form, we can try to resolve any problems quickly.
This is a care home, do we need to complete the information?
All properties where people reside should provide the requested information. The email we send you allows for you to respond online and report changes this way. A care home counts as one residence, so a member of staff should complete the details for everyone.
To provide the necessary information:
- check the names of everyone listed and cross out those who are no longer resident
- add the name of any new residents, we will then send them a form so they can register to vote
- please only list residents, people who are staying with you for respite care should not be added to the form