Open Electoral Register Surrey
Many people are unaware that by signing up to vote, they are signing away their personal details to anyone with the cash and the will to acquire them. This is as a result of the ‘open electoral register’, a distinct, albeit similar, register to the full electoral roll.
In this article, we’re going to discuss exactly what the open electoral register is, the consequences of being a member, and the options you have if you wish to opt out.
What is the open electoral register?
When signing up to vote, adults are automatically placed on two registers — the full electoral register and the open electoral register — with the option to opt out of the latter. The full electoral register comprises the names and addresses of all voting adults and is only accessible to election officials, the police, the government and credit-check firms. Contrastingly, the open electoral register is accessible to anyone — for a price.
Why would someone want to access the open electoral register?
Ultimately, organisations purchase access to the open electoral register to instantly acquire the details of a large group of people within a certain area. This can help to drive their organisation by pushing an agenda — whatever that may be. For some, such as direct marketing firms, the register would be used in an attempt to advertise or sell products to residents. Religious groups may wish to promote their religious views and attempt to spread religious information within their community. Similar practices may be used by lobbying companies or political parties to spread political information in an attempt to influence future votes.
How does it affect Surrey?
By the end of 2018, 825,609 adults residing in Surrey had registered to vote. Of these 825,609, a total of 570,738 chose to opt out of being placed on the open register. This leaves the name and addresses of 254,871 Surrey residents on the open register, many of whom were either unaware of the open register or missed the opportunity to opt out.
How many times has an organisation purchased access to the open electoral register?
This information is not freely available to the public, and so the exact figures are unclear. However, a Freedom of Information request in 2013 found that the number of purchases across all councils in Britain between 2007 and 2012 amounted to just under 3000. This equates to a total turnover of around £265,000.
Can I opt out?
The process for opting out of the open register is relatively simple. You will simply need to contact your local district council and ask to have your details removed. This can be done at any time.
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