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Other UK statistics

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) compiles statistics on the electoral register. The tables provide information on the number of people eligible to vote in Parliamentary Elections for Westminster, Local Government Elections, Welsh Assembly Government Elections and European Parliamentary Elections.

Publications

Electoral Roll, Wales
Department: Welsh Government
Shows the number of people who on 1 December were registered to vote in elections.
Electoral Statistics for UK
Department: Office for National Statistics
Estimates of the usual resident population for England and Wales as at 30 June of the reference year. Provided by administrative area, single year of age and sex.
Electoral Statistics, Scotland
Department: National Records of Scotland
Electoral statistics.
Measuring National Well-being
Department: Office for National Statistics
Measures of National Well-being. Drawing social and economic data from government and other organisations; painting a picture of UK society and how it changes.

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Overview

Electoral statistics refer to the number of people who were registered to vote if an election had been held on 1 December of the reference year. There are two main classifications of voters; the Parliamentary Electorate’ and ‘European and Local Government Electorate’.

Commonwealth citizens, British citizens and citizens of the Republic of Ireland who are normally resident in the area on the qualifying date and who will be aged 18 or over during the electoral register’s currency are eligible to vote in any election. However, further eligibility criteria for the two classifications are different.

The Parliamentary Electorate includes overseas electors but excludes Peers and EU citizens. The European and Local Government Electorate includes Peers and EU citizens but exclude overseas electors. Overseas electors are not resident in the UK but can vote in a Parliamentary Election if they have previously been resident in the UK and included in the electoral register (unless they were too young to register). They are registered to vote in the same parliamentary constituency as before they went abroad.

People who attain the age of 18 during the currency of the register, who are entitled to vote at an election on or after their birthday are included in both the Parliamentary and European/Local Government Elections.

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Technical Data

A rolling registration system was introduced in 2001 whereby Electoral Registration Officers update registers on a continuous basis. Existing registrations are removed for individuals who have not responded to the electoral canvass for at least the past two years.

For England and Wales, the tables of electoral statistics are derived from data supplied to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) by Electoral Registration Officers at the end of December each year. Data for Scotland are similarly collected by council areas and collated by the General Register Office for Scotland (GROS). Data for Northern Ireland are collected by the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (EONI). ONS collates data for the constituent countries to provide UK electoral statistics.

For England, Wales and Scotland the cut-off date for registration is normally six weeks before the election. In order to obtain counts of the number of people entitled to vote if an election had been held on 1 December, a qualifying date of 15 October is applied. If there had been an election on 1 December 2007, for example, those who registered after 15 October 2007 would not be eligible to vote. For Northern Ireland, the qualifying date is 10 November.

The number of people eligible to vote is not the same as the resident population aged 18 and over. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • not everyone who is usually resident is entitled to vote; foreign citizens from outside of the EU and Commonwealth, and prisoners are not eligible

  • some people who would be eligible to vote do not register

  • people who have more than one address may register in more than one place; students for example may register at their home and term-time address although they are only entitled to vote in one constituency in a general election

  • there may be double counting if electoral registration officers vary in how quickly they remove people from the registers after they have moved away from an area

  • there may be a delay in people being removed from the registers after they have died

These factors have a differential impact on the comparability between the electoral statistics and resident population from area to area.

Changes in the electorate can result directly from changes in legislation. On 1 May 2004, for example, the EU was expanded from 15 to 25 countries. This increased the number of people eligible to vote in the European and local elections. 

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Glossary

  • Attainer

    A person who attains the age of 18 during the currency of the register, and is entitled to vote at an election on or after his or her 18th birthday.

  • Commonwealth citizen

    Individuals who are nationals of any country within the Commonwealth of Nations.

  • European/local government elector

    Individuals who are entitled to vote in European and Local Government Elections and who meet the residence qualification. These include Peers and EU citizens but exclude overseas electors. Attainers are also included in these figures.

  • List cleaning

    This is the removal of registrations where individuals have not responded to the electoral canvass for at least the past two years.

  • Overseas elector

    Individuals who are not resident in the UK, but must previously have been resident in the UK and included in the electoral register (unless they were too young to register).

  • Parliamentary elector

    Individuals who are entitled to vote in parliamentary elections for Westminster and who meet the residence qualification. These include overseas electors but exclude Peers and European Union citizens. Attainers are also included in these figures.

  • Peers

    Individuals who sit in the House of Lords cannot vote in UK parliamentary elections.

  • Residence qualification

    For England, Wales and Scotland the residence qualification requires a person to be normally living at the address on the qualifying date, even if temporarily absent. People having more than one place of residence, such as students, may therefore be included on more than one register but are only entitled to vote in one constituency in a general election.

  • Rolling Registration

    This was introduced in 2001 and means that Electoral Registration Officers update registers on a continuous basis.

  • Service electors

    Members of HM Armed Forces and their spouses, plus Crown servants and British Council employees and their spouses residing abroad.

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Population Enquiries Service

Email: pop.info@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0)1329 444661

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