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I'm Italian and I live in a shared house in the UK.

I've received an e-mail from Cambridge City Council electoral services which starts like this:

We recently sent a letter to ask householders to confirm who is eligible to register to vote at your address in Cambridge.

Please take action so that we can check who is eligible to register to vote at your address. Please complete the steps below by 30/08/2021 so that we do not have to send further reminders or ask one of our electoral canvassers to make contact with your address.

Then a link is provided for me to click so that I can edit or add new electors to the list of already registered electors.

At the moment the list contains only 3 people (including me) out of the 7 that currently live in this shared house I live in, because me and the other two are apparently the only 3 that have cared about reading letters and taking action accordingly.

As regards the other 4, they have apparently been ignoring this letters and/or have not taken action to set everything up as regards them living in this household.

If I was to add them to the list, I'd have to, at the minimum, add this information for each of them

  • Name
  • Surname
  • E-mail address and/or telephone number

and I might not know anything else than the name. Not to say that, assuming I know the phone number/e-mail of one of them, that one could tell me "Why did you insert my info without my permission?". And no, I don't wish to go in each room in the house to let them know of this letter from the Council.

Therefore my question is: am I legally required to complete the form on their behalf? Or can I just press Continue and confirm only the 3 names that are listed?

Should I just write to elections@cambridge.gov.uk and let them know that there's other 4 people in the house I don't know e-mail/phone number of?

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  • Did "this letter from the Council" refer to an actual paper letter? If so, was it addressed to you specifically? Do you mean the e-mail, or are we talking about the official letter through the post, possibly addressed to "the householder"? I've assumed we were talking about an e-mail to you in my answer below - if not, I'll be doing some heavy editing. Aug 17 at 10:40
  • @ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere, no, you've correctly undestood I've received an e-mail.
    – Enlico
    Aug 17 at 10:44
  • Many thanks. I'll leave it as is for the moment - there may be better answers and/or comments along in a bit. The official letter through the post should give various options (e-mail, web, phone or post) for you, or "the householder", to let them know - this was what I had in mind at the end of my fourth paragraph. It should also provide contact details for further advice. Aug 17 at 10:54
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Section 23 of The Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001 states that "A registration officer may require any person to give information required for the purposes of that officer’s duties in maintaining registers of parliamentary and local government electors", and describes the offence of failing to assist with that. As paragraph 2 mentions, there may also be implications under the Juries Act 1974.

But we're not there yet.

The e-mail you've received seems to give you another course of action : do nothing, and they will "send further reminders or ask one of our electoral canvassers to make contact with your address". So doing nothing at this point is a valid and legal action that the Council have already considered.

There's something of a "digital divide" problem going on here - since you've responded on line, that's the way the City Council are expecting the household to respond. But there will be people in Cambridge who do not use e-mail (or do not want to use it for this) and even some who do not have a wired home telephone. These will be declining numbers these days, but if all else fails a paper letter will come through the door.

It would be a good idea for someone to take the role of the main householder - even if just to indicate names of the other occupants to the "electoral canvasser" when they arrive. Assuming it's you who opens the door, "I've told them to do it" would be a reasonable thing for you to say (assuming you have).

So there is an obligation - eventually - to provide the information you know, even if it's not complete. But based on the communication you've just received we're a long way from there at the moment.

[Edit : I've just re-read the question and there's a possible legal pitfall. Depending on the wording, clicking "Continue" on the web form may be taken as your statement that there are only three people in the house. This could be considered false information, so don't do that.]

[Further edit : Though there's currently no legal requirement to act, it wouldn't hurt to advise the Council that you are unable to complete the web form as you are one occupant in a shared house. If the case is later passed from canvasser to Registration Officer, you'll be able to demonstrate that you did all you could.]

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    +1 for the statutory citation. I'm less convinced that doing nothing is a "valid and legal action". The letter has asked the OP to provide information by a deadline. Perhaps one could argue that the word "please" means that the information hasn't been "required", but it seem unconvincing. Stating further steps in the event of inaction doesn't negate a requirement IMO. We should also be aware that the email refers to a previously sent letter and we don't know how that was worded.
    – JBentley
    Aug 17 at 17:21
  • @JBentley - the reference to a letter got me thinking, too, hence the discussion in the comments. It sounds like some post may have gone missing. The answer to the headline question is still "not yet", but it wouldn't hurt to pre-empt things by the OP advising the Council that they are one person in a shared house. I'll tweak further. Aug 17 at 17:40

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