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Electoral services privacy notice

The Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) and Returning Officer (RO) collect and use information about residents.

The Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) and Returning Officer (RO) are data controllers who collect and use information about residents to enable us to carry out specific functions for which we are statutorily responsible.

Your information

We keep records about potential and actual electors, voters, citizens, candidates and their agents, staff employed at an election and the people we need to pay. These may be written down or kept on a computer.

These records may include:

  • basic details about you – for example, your name, address, date of birth and nationality
  • telephone numbers and email addresses
  • unique identifiers (such as your National Insurance number)
  • scanned application forms, emails and correspondence
  • notes about any relevant circumstances that you may have told us about
  • your previous or any redirected address
  • the other occupants in your home
  • if you are over 76 or under 18
  • whether you have chosen to opt out of the open version of the register of electors

If you work for the Returning Officer on election duties or for the Electoral Registration Officer for registration duties these may also include:

  • tax status
  • next of kin / emergency contact details
  • details of previous employment

If you are a candidate at an election, an appointed agent at an election or a campaigner we may also hold these details:

  • political party affiliation
  • campaign group affiliation

What we use the information for

We collect your personal information for the following purposes:

  • to undertake our statutory obligation to ensure that all eligible persons in Westminster are registered to vote
  • to enable all registered electors to participate as voters in elections/referendums
  • to enable eligible persons to stand as candidates in elections in accordance with statutory requirements

With regard to the above, we will specifically use personal information on the register of electors to:

  • conduct an annual canvass of all households to establish all eligible persons who are entitled to be registered
  • produce poll cards and postal voting packs

The collection and retention of data from individuals and inspection of other council records is governed by legislation (including):

  • Representation of the People Act 1983
  • Representation of the People Act 1985
  • Representation of the People Act 2000
  • Representation of the People Regulations 2001
  • The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013
  • Electoral Administration Act 2006

The law makes it compulsory to provide information to an Electoral Registration Officer when requested.  This is for the compilation and maintenance of an accurate electoral register.  Records are kept for:

  • potential electors who need to register to vote
  • non-eligible citizens so we can stop inviting them to register
  • electors who have registered to vote

Returning Officers have statutory duties to collect and retain information from:

  • candidates and their agents
  • staff employed at an election
  • voters

This information may be kept in either digital format (i.e. data within a software system or as scanned copies of documents) or hard copy printed format or both.

Sharing your information

We are required by law to provide copies of the full register of electors to certain organisations and individuals (such as political parties, agents, candidates and some government organisations like the Electoral Commission and the Officer for National Statistics).

They may use it for their own reasons which are different to ours but they still have to look after the data contained in the register in the same way that we do.

To verify your identity, the data you provide will be processed by the Individual Electoral Registration Digital Service (IERDS) which is managed by the Cabinet Office. As part of this process, your data will be shared with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Cabinet Office suppliers that are data processors for the IERDS.

Find out more about data privacy.

If you have not opted out of being included on the open register, by law your information can be shared with anyone who requests it. They may use it for their own reasons which are different to ours.

Find out more about the difference between the full and open registers.

In accordance with law, the full register of electors has to be made available for public inspection. The full register of electors for Westminster is available to be viewed by any member of the public at our offices. People who inspect the register must be supervised by a member of the Electoral Services team and are only allowed to take hand written notes. They are not allowed to take copies or photographs of the register.

Both the full and open registers are comprised of names and addresses. They do not contain any phone numbers or email addresses.

Other occasions when your information needs to be shared include:

  • with our printers and software providers, to compile and manage the register, to print poll cards, postal vote packs and other electoral material
  • with credit reference agencies, the British Library and other statutory recipients of the register of electors
  • details of whether you have voted (but not how you have voted) with those who are entitled in law to receive it after an election
  • when the law requires us to pass on information under special circumstances, crime prevention or the detection of fraud as part of the National Fraud Initiative

We are required by law to report certain information to appropriate authorities, such as:

  • where a formal court order has been issued
  • for the prevention or detection of a crime
  • to the Jury Central Summoning Bureau indicating those persons who are aged 76 or over and are no longer eligible for jury service

Retaining your information

The Electoral Registration Officer & Returning Officer need to process your personal data in order to prepare for and conduct elections. Your details will be kept and updated in accordance with our legal obligations and in line with statutory retention periods in our retention schedule.

Candidates standing for election

We are required by law (Principal Area Rules 2006) to retain candidate nomination papers for candidates standing in elections for no longer than 12 months after the election, following which the documents are securely destroyed.

Home address forms provided by candidates standing in General Elections are retained for a period of 21 days after the return of the legal writ, following which they are securely disposed of. However, if an election petition relating to the election is presented within the 21 calendar days, the home address forms must be kept securely until the conclusion of the petition proceedings (including any appeal from such proceedings). They must then be securely destroyed on the next working day following the conclusion of the proceedings or appeal.

We are required by law to retain candidate election expenses documents for a period of no more than 2 years from the date on which the expenses are received. At the end of the two year period, the respective candidate can request the return of the expenses documents. Otherwise the expenses documents will be securely disposed of.

Your records

The Data Protection Act 2018 allows you to find out what information is held about you, on paper and computer records. This is known as ‘right of subject access’ and applies to your Electoral Services records along with all other person records.

If you wish to see a copy of your records, you should contact the Data Protection Officer. You are entitled to receive a copy of your records free of charge, within a month.

In certain circumstances access to your records may be limited, for example, if the records you have asked for contain information relating to another person.

Your rights

The Data Protection Act 2018 allows you other rights; for example, if there is an error in your records, you have the right to make sure it is rectified or erased.

You have the right to be told if we have made a mistake whilst processing your data and we will report breaches to the Commissioner.

If you are unhappy with how we have used your personal information, you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office by emailing [email protected].

Find out more

If you would like to know more about how we use your information, email [email protected].

Write to: Electoral Services, Westminster City Council, 14th Floor City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP

Published: 16 January 2021

Last updated: 28 January 2021