Contractor cock-up will force thousands in Dacorum to register again for latest electoral roll

Electoral roll error
Electoral roll error

As many as 7,500 Dacorum electors need to register for the right to vote for a second time after a bureaucratic boob was discovered.

The glaring omission means anyone who re-registered their vote online or using the freephone option before Monday at 9.30am – when the mistake was spotted – would have been added to an edited register which can be sold on to commercial companies sending out junk mail.

This year is the first time that Dacorum’s register forms do not pre-tick the box which allows personal details to be shared with businesses for marketing purposes.

Dacorum Borough Council democratic services manager Jim Doyle explained that a legal ruling earlier this year now means pre-ticking could label entire forms null and void.

The borough council had been advised by solicitors not to take the risk of pre-ticking, but the thousands of people who registered using the internet or phone didn’t get the option to opt out from contractors Electoral Reform Services.

Mr Doyle said: “ERS has accepted responsibility and will be covering the costs of putting this right. If you do hear from ERS and are asked to re-register, please be assured that this is being carried out on the council’s behalf.”

The cost of rectifying the mistake – by sending emails or letters to the voters affected – will be covered by the contractor and will not affect taxpayers.

One disgruntled voter, who spotted the error when trying to re-register online, said: “Why was this change not highlighted more clearly? If council is going to change the options, it has to make sure the systems are in place to change it easily.

“I think this will niggle a lot of people.”

The council is legally required to sell the edited register to anyone requesting a copy, although Mr Doyle says that the sum received by the council is “negligible”.

He added: “We would prefer not to be legally obliged to pass them on.”