How Croydon will seek universal suffrage by 18th April 2016

By - Monday 7th March, 2016

So far so good, says Sean Creighton to the Croydon electoral registration team. But challenges still remain

Croydon’s electoral registration team has done a good job to get 250,383 people onto the new electoral register by early February. The team faced the major challenge of trying to ensure that at least 11,000 residents did not lose their chance to vote as the register was updated, replacing previous arrangements under which the head of each household was responsible for registering everyone at the address with a new system known as IER. Under individual electoral registration, each person is now required to register to vote individually. Given the London mayoral elections in May 2016 and the EU referendum in June, updating the register is an important step to ensure that as many people as possible can exercise their democratic rights.

But there is still much to do before Monday 18th April, the date when new registrations close prior to the official start of the mayoral and assembly elections.

Nathan Elvery, Croydon council CEO and returning officer, told me at the start of February: “I am content that after the extensive work undertaken during the first full canvass under individual electoral registration (IER), the current electoral register is a solid reflection of number of residents in Croydon who are eligible to register under IER”.

We’ll be working hard to maximise voter registration levels

“However, I am aware of the trends both nationally and locally of potential under-registration in certain groups, such as the under 35s and people who rent from private landlords. I will be doing much work in the coming months to further maximise registration levels in underrepresented groups. We have a clear view of where the ‘drop off’ is, so we are targeting these areas in our borough to improve the final result”.

His team has a database of properties that currently have no registered electors. The deadline to register for the Greater London Assembly elections is Monday 18th April, and Croydon council plans an extensive local campaign to encourage residents to register, with household notification letters (HNLs) to be sent to all properties later this month. The HNL will detail the current registered electors and what to do if anyone resident at the property needs to register. Closer to the election date, poll cards will be sent to all registered electors and information to all properties that have no registered electors.

Numbers are up in North Croydon, probably due to the increase in renting from private landlords there

In answer to a public question at the council meeting on 25th January, cabinet member Simon Hall spelled out the register figures as at 1st December 2015 by ward. It’s encouraging to note that less advantaged parts of the borough such as Broad Green and Fieldway show increases in the numbers of those registered to vote, in contrast with more affluent Sanderstead and Shirley which show small decreases. Overall, the total electorate has risen 2,802 to 249,433.

Extra voters added are mainly in North Croydon which may confirm the increase in population due to the expansion of the private rented sector. Hopefully once the private sector licence scheme register goes public, every private tenant in the borough can be contacted. Hopefully too the political parties in their pre-election door step work will be trying to identify those not registered and assist them. Every resident in the borough can help by letting new neighbours know the process required. Every Residents Association can also do this when they welcome new people in their area, especially when housing schemes are completed.

For more discussion of this topic, see my blog of January 2015.

Sean Creighton

Sean Creighton

A former employee of and freelance project worker with community and voluntary organisations, Sean is active with Croydon Assembly and with the Planning and Transport Committee of the Love Norbury group of residents associations. He is Chair of the Norbury Community Land Trust. He is a historian of Croydon and South-West London, British black society, social action and the labour movement. He coordinates the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History networks. He runs blog sites covering Croydon, Norbury and history events, issues and news. He runs a small scale publishing imprint called History & Social Action Publications. He gives talks on a range of history topics and leads history walks.

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  • Robert Ward

    Thanks Sean, a timely article. I got my HNL today.

    Much fuss made about losing voters and who might or might not be disadvantaged. A lot of hot air, imo. That said, it’s a no brainer that we should do all we we can to get the people registered who should rightly be there. Link is below. It takes 5 minutes. Do it now.

  • Peter Staveley

    It might be helpful to clarify the figures used.

    250,383 is the number of electors as at 1st March 2016 (not 1st December).

    I do not recognise the 249,433 figure. As at 1st December 2015 the number of electors in Croydon was 249,923. So in the 4 months there has been a net increase of 0.2%.

    The numbers are from the elector lists that I hold on behalf of my party (UKIP).

    We will certainly be encouraging people to register to vote, both for the London Elections and especially those entitled to vote in the EU referendum.

  • Sean Creighton

    My apologies to readers. Peter you are right; my editing let a mistake through. The 250,383 figure is the figure given to me by Nathan Elvery on 5 February. The 249,433 figure is 1 December, as stated in the Public Question answer at the January Council meeting. The figure is in a constant process of change as more people register. Robert. A problem is that a substantial number of residents are not on internet; it those electors especially those recently moved in who need to be identified.