Residents urged to fill in electoral forms and save taxpayers £17,000

View - AVDC offices, The Gateway, Aylesbury
View - AVDC offices, The Gateway, Aylesbury

The district council is urging residents to promptly fill in their electoral registration form to save public money – with a Vale man recently learning the hard way the consequences of failing to do so.

From October 3, all households in Aylesbury Vale will receive an electoral registration form, which needs to be responded to, to ensure that eligible people are registered to vote.

Aylesbury Vale District Council is asking residents to respond to this form at the first time of asking, to help prevent the council wasting public money having to remind them to do so. Last year this cost £17,336.

It said that households should also be aware that not registering can result in failed credit checks or being fined up to £1,000.

By law, households must respond to the voter registration form – even if people living there have no intention of voting.

The council recently took action against Dominic Brumwell, of Meadway, Buckingham, who refused to provide the necessary information to a canvasser when they made a home visit to help him complete last year’s registration form.

This resulted in him paying a £600 fine as well as £900 court costs and a victim surcharge of £15.

Chris Sheard, electoral services manager, said: “Last year, we had to visit 12,839 households, as they had not registered to vote, which cost the council £17,336.

“With the need to make savings and to protect public money we want to stop this waste, but we need residents to help us.”

Each year, by law, the council has to prepare a new and accurate register of electors.

To do this the council carries out an annual canvass, where it collects the information it needs by sending each household in the district an electoral registration form to complete and return.

Most households simply need to tell the council that the information about them is still correct, which they can do by visiting a secure website, by text or by calling a free phone number. Using these methods can help reduce the costs of keeping the electoral register up to date.

Any households that don’t reply have to be sent a reminder and then visited by a canvasser.

These costs fall on the council and so by replying at the first time of asking, residents save taxpayers’ money.

The electoral register is also one of the criteria used by credit checking agencies.

People not on the register may find it difficult to get a loan, mortgage or mobile phone contract. Other pitfalls include not being eligible to apply for certain jobs, which require security checks or being able to open a bank account.

Mr Sheard added: “Taking court action is always a last resort, which is why we want people to be aware of how important it is that they respond to the canvass. “Registering to vote is very quick and simple – it only takes a minute. However, if any of the details have changed, you will still need to send the form back in the post.

“All you have to do is update the form with the details of everyone in your household who is eligible to vote and return it us as soon as possible.”

On the electoral registration form residents can opt to have their details excluded from the edited register.

This will mean their details could not be bought by individuals and commercial organisations.

Electors using the telephone or internet services can opt in or out.

Residents using the form will need to place a tick in the appropriate column to opt out, or leave the column blank.

The next elections taking place are the European elections on 22 May 2014.