I contacted the council’s chief executive earlier this week enquiring what activities were taking place on encouraging voter registration.
Mr Williams confirmed that letters had gone to every household and posters had been sent to secondary schools to raise awareness of the issues.
But a few people have contacted me to say that they have had difficulty checking whether they are registered, with EDDC website links not working. I have also heard from someone who double checked he was registered, only to find that he and his wife were not, despite their circumstances remaining unchanged.
East Devon District Council senior officers were hauled before a parliamentary select committee last year, which made a number of criticisms about voter registration methods in East Devon.
The new voter registration rules mean that people must register individually rather than one person registering on behalf of a household. This has caused almost one million people nationally to go missing from the electoral register.
I had hoped that given this worrying statistic from the Electoral Commission, that EDDC would be doing all it could to encourage people to register. Exeter City Council has banners hanging from street lights advertising registration, for example.
But when I made some suggestions about what might be done, I was told that it would not be necessary to do any local publicity, as that there was enough national publicity happening.
I completely disagree with this and am really concerned that there may be a large number of people who don’t realise they aren’t registered – and won’t realise until it is too late. The deadline for voter registration is 20th April.
Bizarrely, I was informed that the council would review the situation on 17 April – just three days before the deadline to register to vote!
My suggestions would have been quick, cheap and easy to introduce. They were:
– Posters on all town and parish council noticeboards
– Emails to all town and parish councils and requests to put registration info along with deadline to register, on their websites
– Twitter campaign in form of automatic frequent tweet (two or three a day) with deadline and relevant link
– If EDDC has Facebook page, big ad on there
– Big ad on EDDC website homepage with link and deadline
– Press release to all local media
My campaign group has decided that the only way we can raise the profile of this issue locally – and to try and make sure that everyone is aware about voter registration – is to do it ourselves, which we will be doing via local and social media.