Hundreds of households in Wellingborough are receiving doorstep visits to help them fill in electoral registration forms.
Extra canvassers have been drafted in after the Government gave the borough council more than £5,000 to help increase registration in areas with low take-up.
Since the door knocking started earlier this month, more than 800 forms have been returned – which has led to an additional 1,000 people becoming registered. Wellingborough Council estimates that there are still around 5,000 households not registered, and people living in them risk losing the right to vote in upcoming elections.
Not being on the register can also affect applications for credit, meaning unregistered people could struggle to get loans, credit cards and mobile phone contracts.
The doorstep visits will run until this Wednesday (April 30). If people still aren’t registered after that date, they can contact the council or visit www.aboutmyvote.co.uk to get a form. The last date to register to vote in next month’s European Parliamentary elections is May 6. The election itself takes place on Thursday, May 22.
Paula Lawton, democratic services manager at Wellingborough Council, said: “If you’re not on the electoral register, you may get a visit from a canvasser in the next couple of days. It’s really important that people do register, not least because it’s against the law not to.
“We understand that people forget about the forms when we send them out, or put it off to complete later, which is why we are using the government money to help people fill them in. Our canvassers, who will always carry identification, can complete the forms with people on their doorsteps and they can be registered quickly.
“If you’re not on the register, you can’t vote. It’s as simple as that. Voting gives people a say on who represents them on their local council, in the UK parliament, and in Europe.
“Elections can be called at very short notice. People may think they don’t want to vote right now, but if an issue comes up that they do want to have a say on, they’ll only be able to vote if they’re on the register.
“Registering doesn’t mean you have to vote. It just means you can if you want to.”
The authority is also hoping to dispel some myths about the electoral register, including the people’s assumptionthey are registered because they pay council tax, that they are unable to vote because they were born outside the UK, or that they don’t have to re-register if they move within the same local authority area.
The council is also keen to reassure people worried that being on the register means their details will be passed onto marketing companies.
Paula Lawton said: “There are two versions of the electoral register, full and edited. Everyone’s details appear on the full register, which can only be used for specific reasons such as elections, crime detection, and credit application checking. The edited register is for general sale and can be bought by anyone who asks for it and used for any purpose, including direct marketing.
“Anyone can ask to be excluded from the edited register and it’s very easy to do by simply ticking a box. Once excluded, people’s details cannot be bought by individuals and commercial organisations.”