Electoral Services privacy notice

This privacy notice sets out how Electoral Services will use and process your information.

It should be read in conjunction with our core data protection obligations and commitments in our main privacy notice

Who is responsible for your information

The Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) and the Returning Officer (RO) are the Data Controllers for Electoral Services.

The ERO is responsible for ensuring that all eligible persons are registered to vote and the RO is responsible for ensuring the provision of elections and referendums.

It is important to note that both the ERO and RO are separate Data Controllers from the council.

The Chief Executive, acts in both the roles of ERO and RO and both roles are legally independent of the council.

What personal information we collect

In order for the ERO and RO to carry out their legislative duties, it is necessary to collect and record information about potential and actual electors, candidates and their agents. These records may include the following personal information:

  • name, address (current and previous) and nationality
  • National Insurance number
  • date of birth
  • signature
  • copies or details of identity and eligibility
  • notes about any relevant circumstances you have told us about
  • whether you have chosen to opt out of the open register of electors
  • contact details (like telephone number and email address)
  • other occupants in your home
  • if you are over 76 or under 18
  • photograph (for Voter Authority Certificate applications)
  • proxy details (name, address, optional contact details)
  • historic residency and citizenship details (for EU citizens where necessary)
  • required technical data such as IP address
  • cookie or behavioural tracking data
  • political party or group affiliation (if applying to be a candidate at an election)

Information may be kept in either digital format (like data within a software system or as scanned copies of documents), hard printed format, or both.

In relation to particular categories of elector (like service voters, overseas electors, crown servants) there may be additional information processed. For example, overseas electors passport number, information relating to type of service (Army, Navy or Air Force), rank, regiment and British Forces Post Office address.

Why we collect your personal information

We use your personal data for electoral registration and election administration purposes, including:

  • registering your right to vote, which includes verifying your identity
  • producing and maintaining an accurate register of electors, which includes conducting an annual canvass and individual registration all year round
  • processing absent voter requests and maintaining accurate records
  • processing applications for Voter Authority Certificates
  • the administration of all elections and referenda, including:
    • issuing poll cards to electors and to proxies
    • issuing and receiving postal votes and completed postal voting statements
    • processing and determining nomination papers, publishing statutory notices containing candidate or agent details, producing ballot papers
    • issuing temporary Voter Authority Certificates

Although it is not a legal requirement to vote, it is a legal requirement for all eligible electors to be registered to vote. Therefore, it is a legal requirement to provide the ERO with your personal data when requested in order to register you to vote.

The collection and retention of personal data is governed by the following legislation:

  • Local Government Act 1972
  • Representation of the People Act 1983
  • Representation of the People Act 1985
  • Representation of the People Act 2000
  • Electoral Administration Act 2006
  • Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013
  • Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001
  • Representation of the People (Annual Canvass) (Amendment) Regulations 2019
  • Local Elections (Principal Areas) (England and Wales) Rules 2006
  • Elections Act 2022
  • Voter Identification Regulations 2022
  • The Representation of the People (Postal and Proxy Voting Etc.) (Amendment) Regulations 2023

Who we will share your personal information with

When you register to vote your data will be processed by the Individual Electoral Registration Digital Services (IER-DS) managed by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). You can find more information about this at GOV.UK

When your application has been verified and processed, you are added to the electoral register. We keep two registers – the full register and the open register.

In accordance with law, the full electoral register has to be made available for public inspection. It is not available online and only the current version of the electoral register is able to be inspected. Anyone can visit the council offices to inspect the register but they will be supervised at all times and are only allowed to take hand written notes. Photographs or any copies are not allowed to be taken.

The open register is an extract of the full version, but it is not used for elections. Anyone can buy a copy of this register and, in accordance with law, your name will automatically be included in the open version unless you opt out. Opting out of the open register will not affect your right to vote. You can opt out of the open register when you register to vote or by completing the form on our website

The full and open electoral register are only comprised of names and addresses. It is only searchable by address so no-one can find out an address with just a name. However, if you concerned about your safety you can register without your name and address showing by way of an anonymous registration. More information about anonymous registration can be found on the Electoral Commission website

In accordance with law, the full electoral register may be shared with the following organisations and individuals:

  • The British Library
  • Office for National Statistics
  • Jury Summoning Bureau
  • Boundary Commission
  • Electoral Commission
  • elected representatives
  • candidates standing for election
  • local and national political parties
  • the council - for auditing and the prevention or detection of fraud or criminal offences
  • police forces and the National Crime Agency
  • public library or other archive services
  • National Fraud Initiative
  • credit reference agencies

All may use it for their own reasons, such as detecting crime or checking credit applications or campaigning at an election, but they still have a legal duty to look after the data contained in the register in the same way that we do.

Your data will also be disclosed to the Cabinet Office as part of the national data matching step in the annual canvass to check your identity before sending canvass forms and when processing applications for a voter authority certificate.

We also have to share your data with our contracted printers and software providers, to compile and manage the register, to provide online response services, to print poll cards and other electoral registration forms and materials.

Our current software providers are: Civica Xpress, 303 Sperry Way, Stonehouse Business Park, Stonehouse, GL10 3UT. Our current print providers for the annual canvass are: Civica Election Services. Our current print providers for poll cards and ballot papers are SciPrint, 12 Easter Inch Road, Easter Inch Industrial Estate, Bathgate EH48 2FH.

If you have provided your contact details (email and telephone number) we may use these to send communication about electoral events using the GOV.UK Notify service.

How long we keep your personal information

The ERO and RO need to process your personal data in order to prepare for and conduct elections. Your details will be kept and updated in accordance with our legal obligations and in line with statutory retention periods in our retention schedule.

Your rights

The Data Protection Act 2018 allows you to find out what information is held about you, on paper and computer records. This is known as ‘right of subject access’ and applies to your Electoral Services records along with all other personal records.

If you wish to see a copy of your records or have a query about your personal data, you should contact us using the details below.

You can find out more about your rights in our main privacy notice or on the ICO website.

Changes to this privacy notice

We keep this privacy notice under regular review. The last update was in April 2024.

Contact information

Electoral Services
Latton Bush Centre
Southern Way
Harlow CM18 7BL
01279 446038