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Why registering to vote could be good for your credit rating

Vote

With the general election fast approaching on 7 May, here’s the Electoral Commission on why it’s important to register to vote. Did you know, for example, that not registering could damage your credit rating?

Last year saw the start of the transition to Individual Electoral Registration (IER), which meant a move away from the Victorian head of household registration system to one where everyone is responsible for registering themselves. In addition, for the first time, electors in England, Scotland and Wales can also now register online.

It only takes a few minutes and it’s hard to believe that until last summer the only way you could register to vote was filling in a paper form.

Home movers unlikely to register

We know that some groups of people are less likely to be registered, including those that have recently moved. Only 40% of those who’ve moved house in the last year have registered to vote. If you’ve lived where you are now for 16 years, the figure is a much more impressive 94%!

There’s also a difference between renters and homeowners, where 63% of private renters are registered compared to 94% of outright homeowners:

Registered to vote

Registering to vote and your credit score

There are also other advantages of being on the electoral register. For instance, did you know that it can improve your credit rating?

This is because credit reference agencies can use the electoral register to confirm where you live in order to counteract fraud. It also helps them verify who you are and where you have been living in the past. So if you are thinking about buying a home and will need a mortgage, then being on the electoral register could make the difference to whether you pass a lenders credit checks or not.

At the end of the day, if you don’t vote your voice won’t be heard. So our message is simple, register as soon as you can because if you’re not registered, you can’t vote. Make sure you’re in by the deadline on 20 April.

Are you all set and registered to vote? Did you know that failing to register could affect your credit rating?

This is a guest post by Alex Roberston, Director of Communications at The Electoral Commission. All opinions are Alex’s own, not necessarily those of Which?

Comments
Member

As well as registering to vote, we need to encourage far more people to exercise their right to vote. As long as we don’t bother, we’ll get what we are given

I would also like to see online voting for major issues introduced so we can all have our view registered. Not just on whether we stay in Europe, but whether we should have a war (would Iraq or Afghanistan have happened?), whether we give so much away in foreign aid, whether we have HS2, how we reform the State Pension…… The two issues are directly linked – register to vote and then feel you can at least really have a say in what the politicians we employ do for us. Oh – maybe also vote on proportional representation and get a mix of representatives that properly represent the electorates’ choice.

Member

Malcolm is absolutely right. More people vote in reality television shows than in many elections in the UK because electoral voting is too onerous.

We need online voting to become the norm so that voting in an election or referendum is no less onerous than voting in a reality television show. The user authentication system for electoral voting could have the same strength as online banking, and if the same login was used to authenticate to all public sector services, then voters would have a strong disincentive to share their login, e.g. sell their vote for reward, which would otherwise be a significant risk with online voting. The system could also be designed so that it would be technically impossible for anyone to view the vote of a specific voter, only that they cast a vote.

Imagine if we had a voting smartphone app whereby the government could frequently ask the nation to vote on particular issues. We could have Swiss-style referendums on all kinds of issues, but at negligible cost and with high turnout. We could become the most democratic nation in the world.

Member

Do remember that Malcolm and a substantial number of people don’t use smartphones. What did you say about democracy? 🙂

Member

Smartphones would be only one of many ways to cast a vote. I agree that it would be absurd and undemocratic for smartphones to be the only way.

Member

Malcolm, your comments are very timely. The following BBC news article was published today on online voting:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30976610

The House of Commons speaker, John Bercow, wants it introduced by 2020.

Member

NFH, it’s heartening to see that the Speaker reads, and takes notice, of Which? Conversations. I wouldn’t like to claim that he stole my idea but…….you saw it here first. 😀

Member

I wonder if those who have a problem with their credit rating know that they should have registered to vote. I don’t remember reading about this issue when I have been sent the registration form, though that would have been a good place to draw attention to the issue.

A 30 year old friend once told me that he was having problems in getting a credit card because he had never had one before or any form of credit in his life.

Member
Sophie Gilbert says:
25 January 2015

I’m all set and registered to vote. For one thing I consider it shameful in particular for women not to vote in view of what suffragettes had to suffer for us women to be allowed to vote.

To paraphrase the bumper sticker about education and ignorance, do some people think hauling their proverbials to the polling station and casting a vote is onerous? Their should try not having the right to do so. (This isn’t in the least directed at NFH for using the word “onerous”, and I am certainly not referring either to those of us who genuinely are not able to make it to the polling station and use a postal vote instead.)

But yes, we do need to try and make it easier for, for example, the TV-mind-numbed among us, and more convenient where necessary for the rest of us. France already uses secure online voting under certain circumstances. If it can, Britain can.

There are arguments for and against, but is it time to make voting compulsory? One can always cast a blank vote if one is unhappy with our form of democracy or disillusioned by our politicians.

Lastly in my diatribe, look at the great turn out in Scotland for the referendum. How on earth we do that, I don’t know, but we do need to get people to think that politics is exciting, and utterly relevant to our lives. Have more televised debates for start? Do TV informal polls immediately afterwards? Get celebrities to advertise voting not only as a civic right but also a civic duty?

Member

Sophie, we need to think our vote could make a difference. With incumbent parties in so many safe seats only a relatively small proportion of the population can change anything, so people in those assured seats probably wonder why make the effort. Whilst there arguments are for and against proportional representation, if we simply had a national pool of candidates for each party, and the number became MPs in proportion to the votes cast, at least we might stand a chance of enthusing people. The coalition argument has come to pass anyway, so a (very) minority party can still have influence far greater than its support should permit.

Member
Ian Colley says:
26 January 2015

I will vote [a] when it becomes secret, and [b] when political parties are made illegal, and all MPs are Independant…..perhaps then we may have true democracy, and start to run the UK. for the benefit of the people, rather than that of the politicians and bureau[c]rats.

Member

I don’t like the present political system where we are expected to vote for a party even if their views on certain issues are quite different to our own. I have long regarded elections as voting for the least bad option and it is no surprise to me that the turnouts are so low.

Perhaps if we could vote on specific issues, the supposed apathy would disappear.

Member

“It was in our manifesto, and you voted for us”. Of course we don’t all agree with everything in a manifesto – much of which is populist policy to get votes. Hence my earlier wish that we should have voting on such issues. We have secure systems that allow this and are quick and cheap. However that would mean the public exercising their power over the people we employ to run our country. A bit like having workers representatives in the boardroom. A bit too much like democracy?

Member

Sometimes it’s a relief when parties fail to deliver the promises in their manifesto.

Having more opportunity to make an input would undoubtedly encourage more people to register to vote, which is what this Conversation is about.

Member

I certainly agree that a new channel for voting via the internet would be a good step forward. It is done for company agm’s and for organisation like Nationwide Building Society with millions of members. The security implications are not insurmountable and obviously the polling stations would have to operate an on-line register as well so that people couldn’t vote on-line as well as in person. I would probably still go out to vote – it’s quite a pleasant social experience and I do enjoy following the archaic way-in fingers to the polling station and trying to use the blunt pencil on the short length of string. Last time I went there was some discontent because the zumba class in the community centre had been cancelled and that was more important than the election.

Member
Kess says:
29 January 2015

Having moved last April, it’s been rather difficult to change address and get hold of the forms! They sent letters to the previous address telling us they were taking us off their register. Lucky I had organised Royal Mail postal re routing for a few months (Because I had not told everyone in time)

The new forms were sent to the new address after I phoned them twice to chase and we added both myself and partner. Because of a name change 6 years ago (which was updated on the electoral role many years ago) and because my partner’s DWP/HMRC files is sensitive, therefore locked to normal level personnel (long story) the local council could not confirm the identity of my partner.

They asked for all sorts of paperwork which we do not have as my partner doesn’t have a passport or drive. All paperwork had to be within 3 months, but of course we had just moved to our new address which meant waiting for new bills to be sent via post or generated by email.
We finally had all the paperwork after 3 weeks and sent it in.
We heard nothing back so assumed it was all fine.
The new form came in to again confirm who was and wasn’t registered at the address and although my name was now added I had to register for postal voting separately.
My partner wasn’t on there.

I phone to make sure my partner was indeed now registered and to request postal application forms to be sent. That was 5 weeks ago. I have only now got the form to register to vote by post for both of us.

As yet I still have not been sent a request form to take us off the open register.

We moved in to our new place in April 2014. I only hope we don’t have to move in April 2015!!!!!!!!!!!

No wonder some renters are not bothering, because it seems to be such a mess.

It was never this hard before, and although I know they have now changed their *records* or whatever to check the identity of people, it’s not working very smoothly currently.

In any case, many renters are not able to vote (from other countries I presume) and the fact many move every year.
We have been lucky. But most renters do not stay for years and years in the same place as house owners do.

It’s also a case that many renters may be young or students and feel that there is no point voting.
I also think the wording of the forms and the threatening attitude probably puts people off even more.

This feels more like an ID check than concern about voting.