Thursday, 21 April 2011

Cornwall to miss out on key electoral pilot as Government cuts funding

Cornwall will no longer be taking part in a key pilot scheme to make sure people are registered to vote as a result of the Government cutting funding for the project. Despite being judged to have made the best bid of any authority, the Government said they were prepared to give Cornwall only £70,000 of the £280,000 it would have cost to run the pilot.

The scheme in question was to be a data matching exercise which would have allowed Cornwall Council to have the data of a range of other public bodies such as the DVLA and Revenue and Customs checked. The aim was to find people who live in Cornwall and are entitled to register to vote but who have not done so. The Council estimates that there are currently around 22,000 such people.

The UK will shortly be moving to a system of individual voter registration rather than the one form per house system we use at the moment. That's good news because it will help combat fraud. But it does mean that some people are likely to fail to register. The data matching pilot would have helped councils to know how best to find the people who do not register.

Of course the pilot would also have helped to find out more about people who are second home owners and who should not be on the register in Cornwall.

I think it's really bad news that the Government has decided to short change this important scheme. It will still be going ahead in other areas, but sadly not in Cornwall.

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