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Find out how to vote - 2015

Why important

In 2014 there has been an important change of procedure in registering to vote, which is of particular importance in the lead-up to the May 2015 General Election. The change involves individual voter registration replacing the previous system of relying on information given by the head of each household.

Date of assessment

Coverage

All except county councils (380 councils in all).

Overview

About half of councils handle this new task well, with 49% achieving our standard. Much of the work is taken out of this task by the use of the GOV.UK online facility.

Find your council report

Check ‘coverage’ to see if your council has been surveyed. Go to councils page and select your council. Look for link to task report under 2016-17 results

Headline results

50%

Achieved standard

The standard
  • At least 5 questions from 8 answered 'Yes'
  • Question Q150 must be answered 'Yes'
  • Question Q156 must be 'No' (content must not be out of date)
  • Promotion of task rated satisfactory or very good
  • Customer journey rated satisfactory or very good

 

Questions

NB Question highlighted in red is an ‘essential question’ that must be answered correctly for the council to meet the standard for this task. Questions highlighted in blue affect star ranking

Questions to be answered "Yes"
Does a site search return the correct result listed in the first five results? 85%
Does the home page lead me directly to the task? 22%
Can I find information on Individual Electoral Registration (new legislation) ? 77%
Is there an online registration form available? 84%
Is there a phone number readily available if I need assistance with applying? 69%
Does a Google search lead me to the task? 93%
Does the service landing page provide a prominent link that goes directly to this task? 85%
Is there an entry in the A to Z index? 78%
Would you recommend that other councils look at this implementation as an example of good practice? 20%
Out of date information, answered 'No'
Did you come across any out-of-date information about this task? 22%
How effectively is this council promoting this as a task?
How effectively is this council promoting this as a task? 2.1
Overall, how do you rate the journey plus task completion?
Overall, how do you rate the journey plus task completion? 2.2

Task report

Good practice

Finding the task

  • Find the task by entering council name’ how to vote into Google (or other search engine).
  • Provide a direct link from the elections landing page to a brief description of the registration process.
  • Using the search term ‘how to vote’, make sure the search results distinguish between how to cast a vote and how to register to vote. Remember that this was a task aimed at people voting for the first time and they may well fail to use the term ‘register’.
  • Provide clear signposting from the A to Z.
  • Take visitors to the same page from any site search result or A to Z entry.
  • In two-tier areas, signpost the task from the county council site.

Completing the task

  • Make sure that the content relating to registering to vote is well written and easy to read.
  • Encourage people to register with clear signposting to the online application form on GOV.UK.
  • Provide an easy-to-read explanation of the new Individual Electoral Registration (IER) system and how it differs from the previous ‘head of household’ system.
  • Provide clear instructions on how to contact the elections team in case of difficulties.
  • Consider providing a link to help people find their National Insurance number. (See Birmingham City Council.)
  • Consider providing video material as an additional explanatory tool.

Poor practice

  • Users are sent to a page on how to cast a vote on election day but not on how to register to vote.
  • The content is very wordy and difficult to read. It contains jargon, unsuitable for many people applying to vote for the first time.
  • Content is out of date. For example, it still refers to sending letters several months ago.

Reviewer's tip

Although generally good information provided, not all councils mention the new Individual Electoral Registration (IER) arrangements. So people may still be unaware that they must register themselves rather than relying on the ‘head of the household’ to do it.

Many sites told me to ‘look out for a letter over the summer’ (presumably last summer) about IER. This is out of date content and needs to be removed.

Sites that we recommend

Cornwall

Very good - a simple task, done simply and effectively. Easy to find and the information is well presented, with logical links through to related content and questions. A clear link to completing the online task of registering, and obvious contact details for anyone needing help. Very good.

Adur & Worthing

This is what good looks like: how to register to vote on Adur & Worthing! A really well-explained page with appropriate links in the right places. But the pièce de résistance is the link to further information about how to vote once registered, a consideration only rarely seen – someone thinking about the customer journey in the round. This task assessed using Worthing but for both councils.

Basingstoke & Deane BC

Easy to find and all in one place with no searching for related parts of content. Content covers the topic and links to the GOV.UK online form.

Brentwood BC

Reasonably well explained and readily found. Information bang up to date too.

Chelmsford City

Everything you could possibly want to know about registering to vote using IER but were afraid to ask! Despite the comprehensive information provision which would put a number of council websites I’ve already reviewed to shame, it is well written, easy to read and informative.

Chichester DC

I’m running out of superlatives for this website. Another faultless task completed. The recognition that those who wish to register to vote will subsequently want to vote too is superb. It’s amazing how often the two acts are not connected by councils. But not here in Chichester. First class!

Colchester DC

Reasonable promotion (home page route could be bettered) and service description though long is easily digested.

North Kesteven DC

One of the best guides to registering to vote and subsequently how to vote that I’ve encountered. I particularly liked that my site search for ‘how to vote’ yielded as first result a guide on, er, how to vote! Too many councils focus on the registration part of the process and fail to provide information to new voters on how to exercise their democratic right. Well done, North Kesteven!

Rushmoor BC

Easy to find. Concise copy. Easy to link to the GOV.UK registration form.

Further information

We assessed this task primarily using the council’s search facility.

 

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