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Electoral Services - Privacy notice

Who we are and what we do

Everyone working for Electoral Services has a legal duty to keep and process information about you in accordance with the law.

This notice explains why we ask for your personal information, how that information will be used and how you can access your records.

Any questions regarding our privacy practices should be sent to:

Data Protection Officer (DPO)
West Oxfordshire District Council
Woodgreen, Witney, OX28 1NB
Tel: 01993 861194

Changes to electoral law and the way the Canvass is conducted came into effect in June 2020. 

In addition to matching against the national dataset (Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) will have the discretion to check if an elector is still present at a property by matching the data they hold on registered electors against local datasets (such as council tax records). Local datasets are available to EROs under their existing powers provided by Regulations 23, 35 and 35A of the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001.

To undertake this, we may require access to information held by other council departments, for example:

  • Local authority billing and payments data
  • Housing data
  • Parking permits database
  • Penalty charge notice data
  • Customer service database
  • Council Tax database
  • Housing Benefit database
  • Payroll Data

Why we need your information and how we use it

Your information will be used for the functions of the Electoral Services Department. The functions of the department are undertaken on behalf of the Electoral Registration Officer / Returning Officer who is a data controller and collects your personal data from you for the purpose of:

  • Registering your right to vote;
  • Processing any absent (postal or proxy) voting requests;
  • Producing and maintaining an accurate register of electors;
  • Delivering elections and referendums;

The legal basis for processing your data

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 Regulations 2001
  • The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013

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.

What type of information is collected from you

The information we collect and process may include:

  • basic details about you, for example, name, address, date of birth and nationality
  • unique identifiers (such as your NI number),
  • scanned application forms & dates of any letters of correspondence
  • notes about any relevant circumstances that you have told us
  • details and records about the service you have received
  • your previous or any redirected address
  • the other occupants in your home
  • if you are over 76 or under 16/17
  • whether you have chosen to opt out of the Open version of the Register
  • where you have chosen to provide them, your phone number and/or email

Who your information may be shared with (internally and externally)

To verify your identity, the data you provide on any application form to register to vote will be processed by the Individual Electoral Registration Digital Service (IER-DS) managed by the Cabinet Office. As part of this process your data will be shared with the Department of Work and Pensions and the Cabinet Office suppliers that are data processors for the Individual Electoral Registration Digital Service. You can find more information about this on the Register to Vote website.

The Electoral Registration Officer publishes two versions of the register:

The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections. The register is used for electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as:

  • detecting crime (e.g. fraud)
  • calling people for jury service
  • checking credit applications

The open register is an extract of the electoral register, but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.

If you are concerned that having your name or address on the electoral register may affect your safety, there could be other options available to you, such as anonymous registration. In certain limited circumstances, you can register without your name and address showing on the register.

The electoral register is published once a year (usually each December) and is updated on the first working day of each month between January and September. The law restricts who can be supplied with the electoral register, extracts of the electoral register and absent voter records. 

  • Inspection of the register is conducted under supervision;
  • Hand written notes may be made during inspection, but no copies of photographs of the register are allowed;
  • Any information recorded must not be used for direct marketing purposes, in accordance with data protection legislation, unless it has been published in the open register;
  • Anyone who fails to observe these conditions may be charged a penalty of up to £5,000.

Also other occasions when your information needs to be shared include:

  • with registered political parties, elected representatives, candidates, agents and other permitted participants who can use it for electoral purposes only
  • where the health and safety of others is at risk
  • when the law requires us to pass on information under special circumstances, including crime prevention or the detection of fraud as part of the National Fraud Initiative

We also have to share your information with our software providers and contracted printers for the purpose of carrying out our duties of electoral registration and delivering elections and referendums.

Staffing data may be shared with other Returning Officers and Electoral Registration Officers as appropriate. All staff details will also be shared with the payroll team and HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) in order to make payments. Details of candidates, election agents, subscribers to nomination papers and other political campaigners may be published where the law requires.

How long we keep your information (retention period)

In order to provide you with this service, we rely on our legal obligation. The Electoral Registration Officer & Returning Officer are obliged to process your personal data in relation to preparing for and conducting Elections. Your details will be kept and updated in accordance with our legal obligations and in line with statutory retention periods.

How we protect your Information

We will not transfer your personal data outside the EU without your consent.

We have implemented generally accepted standards of technology and operational security in order to protect personal data from loss, misuse, or unauthorised alteration or destruction.  

Please note however that where you are transmitting information to us over the internet this can never be guaranteed to be 100% secure.  

For any payments which we take from you online we will use a recognised online secure payment system.

We will notify you promptly in the event of any breach of your personal data which might expose you to serious risk.

Your rights 

You have rights under the Data Protection Legislations:

  • to access your personal data
  • to be provided with information about how your personal data is processed
  • to have your personal data corrected
  • to have your personal data erased in certain circumstances
  • to object to or restrict how your personal data is processed
  • to have your personal data transferred to yourself or to another business in certain circumstances.
  • to be told if we have made a mistake whilst processing your data and we will self report breaches to the Commissioner

How you can access, update or correct your information

The Data Protection Legislation 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 personal 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.

The accuracy of your information is important to us to be able to provide relevant services more quickly. We are working to make our record keeping more efficient. In the meantime, if you change your address or email address, or if any of your circumstances change or any of the other information we hold is inaccurate or out of date please email us or write to us at:

The Electoral Services
West Oxfordshire District Council
Woodgreen, Witney¸ OX28 1NB

Further information

If you would like to know more about how we use your information, or if for any reason you do not wish to have your information used in any of the ways described here, please tell us. Contact the Data Protection Officer.

You can also complain to the Information Commissioner:

We reserve the right to update this privacy notice from time to time by publishing a new version on our website.