Electoral Services

What we do

Electoral Services maintain the Register of Electors and organise elections and referendums.  We deliver electoral registration for the Electoral Registration Officer and elections and referendums for the Returning Officer.

The Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer collect and use information about residents to enable us to carry out specific functions for which we are statutorily responsible.

Why we need your information and how we use it

We are collecting this data, for the purposes of electoral registration and elections, because we are required to do so by the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Act 1983 and the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001 and any legislation governing the running of a particular election or referendum.

We will use this information to maintain a list of potential and actual voters at elections; employing and paying staff at current and future elections; and maintaining lists of candidates and their agents.

The law makes it compulsory to provide information to an Electoral Registration Officer when requested.  This is for the compilation and maintenance of an accurate electoral register.  If you fail to provide us with the information we ask for or to make an application when required to do so, this may lead to a civil penalty or prosecution and a fine (depending on what we are asking you to complete).  Providing us with false information may lead to a criminal conviction and a fine and/or prison sentence.

Everyone’s name and address goes on the full version of the electoral register once their application to register is successful. Your name and address will be publicly available if you register to vote.  Special anonymous rules apply if a resident’s safety would be at risk.

The full version of the register is usually used for:

  • elections
  • preventing and detecting crime
  • checking applications for loans or credit

But your name and address will be available to anyone who wishes to look at the register in person.

You may, when you register to vote, decide to be on the ‘open register’ (also known as the edited register). The ‘open register’ means that your information is publicly available for anyone seeking to verify your identify, or use the data for other purposes, such as direct marketing.  Anyone choosing to use the public data will be legally responsible for ensuring that they comply with the law, including data protection law, when using it.

When you register to vote online at gov.uk

To verify your identity, the data you provide will be processed by the Individual Electoral Registration Digital Service managed by the Cabinet Office. As part of the process your data will be shared with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Cabinet Office suppliers that are data processors for the Individual Electoral Registration Digital Service.  You can find more information about this here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-to-vote-privacy-notice/register-to-vote-privacy-notice

Where we have received your data from a third party

We receive online applications to register on the electoral roll from the Cabinet Office via the Individual Electoral Registration Digital Service.  All applications to register, whether by paper or online, are shared with the Department for Work and Pensions, in order to verify the identity of new applicants.  The Cabinet Office will use the applications to inform the previous local authority of people who have moved area.

We receive details such as name, address, date of birth and nationality, telephone and email address, from a number individuals and organisations including higher education establishments, landlords, care homes, the council’s benefits and council tax departments and any other council department in order to aid verifying the identity of new applicants and also to aid eligible residents to register on the electoral roll. This is because the law requires any individual or organisation (including private companies, central and local government) to provide details of residents to the Electoral Registration Officer on request.

What type of information we collect

We keep records about potential and actual electors, voters, candidates and their agents, staff employed at an election or by the Electoral Registration Officer.

These records may include:

  • Basic information about you – for example your name, address, date of birth and nationality as these are required for us to make decisions on your application for electoral registration. 
  • Telephone number and email address
  • Unique identifies (such as your national insurance number)
  • If you apply to vote by post we usually hold your signature and date of birth and use that to check that postal votes used at election times have been completed by you, unless we grant a waiver 
  • Biometric data held on your identity documents if we need them to confirm your identity.
  • Scanned application forms, emails and correspondence
  • Notes about any relevant circumstances that you may have told us about
  • Your previous or any redirected address
  • The other occupants in your home
  • If you are over 76 or under 18
  • Information about your residence such as any landlord, size of property, safety and access issues
  • Whether you have opted out of the open version of the register of electors
  • If you are registered anonymously we will hold Court Orders or attestations showing your safety would be at risk

If you work for the Returning Officer on election duties or for the Electoral Registration Officer for registration duties these may include:

  • Tax status
  • Next of kin/emergency contact details
  • Details of previous employment
  • Medical / disability conditions that you have told us about

If you are a candidate at an election, an appointed agent at an election or a campaigner we may also hold these details:

  • Political party affiliation
  • Campaign group affiliation
Who we may share your information with

Electoral Services is statutorily controlled regarding who it may share its data with and how they may use that data.  We are legally required to share it with:


  • Contracted printers to print your poll cards, postal packs and electoral material;
  • Registered political parties, recognised third party and permitted participants for electoral purposes and checking political donations;
  • Elected representatives (Member of Parliament, Member of European Parliament, Councillor, Police and Crime Commissioner, London Mayor and Assembly member), formal candidates and their agents at elections, the Lord Chancellor, Returning Officer for elections and Permitted Participants and Third Parties registered with the Electoral Commission who are able to use it for electoral purposes;
  • The council’s Monitoring Officer and other council officers, the Police, Security Services, GCHQ for crime prevention or the detection of crime;
  • Credit reference agencies for credit checking purposes;
  • People and companies that purchase the open version of the register (which you have the right to be removed from) for any purpose. The full version of the register can only be used for restricted legal purposes and therefore you do not have the right to be removed from the full version
  • British Library, other national and local libraries, Office for National Statistics (ONS), Archiving Services, the Electoral Commission, the Boundary Commission for England and Local Government Boundary Commission for England for statistical monitoring and electoral purposes or purposes described in law;
  • Those who are entitled in law and any person on personal inspection to see whether you have voted (but not how you voted) such as political parties and candidates at the election;
  • Royal Borough of Greenwich finance for the payment of staff at elections;
  • Electoral officers throughout the European Union (EU) who will receive information (name and address) on European citizens (who are not also Commonwealth or Irish) registered in the UK for voting purposes at EU Parliamentary elections only.  This information is sent to nominated organisation within the home country of the EU citizen by secure mail;
  • Departments within the council for the discharge of their statutory functions and crime prevention or the detection of crime. 
How long we keep your information

We will hold this information for up to 15 years.  The period of time that we will hold this data will depend on our legal obligations which set statutory retention periods such as 15 years for confirming the eligibility of persons making overseas registration applications.  After this your information will be deleted or archived.

The Register of Electors is a historical document and will be held indefinitely. Historical versions of the register cannot be altered even if it was incorrect. A legally prescribed process allows the current register to be corrected if it is not accurate. Personal information regarding applications for registration (such as ID documents) are kept for at least 1 year and at least until the next major electoral event.

Postal vote applications are retained for 12 months after it was last in force. 

Your contact information such as telephone number and email address will be retained for the period you are an elector or resident and will be used to discharge our legal duties to maintain the electoral register and encourage participation in electoral events.

Candidates standing for election

We are required by law to retain candidate nomination papers for candidates standing in elections for no longer than 12 months after the election, following which the documents are securely destroyed.

Home address forms provided by candidates standing in General Elections are retained for a period of 21 days after the return of the legal writ, following which they are securely disposed of.  However, if an election petition relating to the election or other legal proceedings is presented within 21 calendar days, the home address forms will be kept securely until the conclusion of the petition or other legal proceedings (including the appeal from such proceedings).  They will be securely destroyed on the next working day following the conclusion of the proceedings or appeal.

We are required by law to retain candidate election expenses documents for a period of 2 years from the date on which the expenses are received.  At the end of the 2 year period, the respective candidate can request the return of the expenses documents.  Otherwise the expenses documents will be securely disposed of.

Version date
June 2019