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The Annual Canvass 2017: What you need to know

In August each year, every household in Nottingham is sent a Household Enquiry Form (HEF). This is part of the “annual canvass” which we are required to conduct by law to ensure that the electoral register is complete, accurate and up to date.

What is the HEF and why have I received one?

Do I need to do anything if the information on my HEF is correct and has not changed?

What do I need to do if the information on my HEF is incorrect and needs changing

What changes do I need to inform you of?

What is the deadline for responding to the HEF?

Do I need to do anything else after responding to my HEF?

What should I do if I realise that I made a mistake when responding to my HEF?

Why have I received an Invitation To Register (ITR) form?

What if I do not want to register to vote?

What if there is nobody in my household who is eligible to register to vote?

What if I am a student in Nottingham and I have a second (home) address?

What if I am the landlord of a business premises or an empty property and a HEF has been sent to the address?

What if I have received a HEF for my second home?

What if I am responsible for returning the HEF for a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) e.g. a care home or student halls of residence?

What if somebody in my household does not have the mental capacity to register themselves to vote?

What if I am in danger/my life is at risk and I do not want to disclose my details on the HEF or ITR forms?

What if I do not have a fixed address?

What happens if I do not respond to the HEF or my ITR form?

What is the HEF and why have I received one?

You have received a Household Enquiry Form (HEF) as part of the annual canvass. This is a survey of all the households in the country that takes place each year to ensure that the electoral register is up to date.

The purpose of the HEF is to find out whether the information that we currently hold on the electoral register for your household is correct. HEF forms are addressed to ‘The Occupier’ and will give the details of anybody who is registered to vote at your address. Properties where no one is registered to vote will receive a blank HEF.

All residents of a household who are eligible to register to vote must be included on your HEF. Eligible residents are:

  • People aged 16 years or over (although they will not be able to vote until they turn 18)
  • British, Irish and EU citizens
  • Commonwealth citizens who have leave to remain in the UK or who do not require such leave to remain

Read more about who is eligible to register to vote.

Do I need to do anything if the information on my HEF is correct and has not changed?

Yes. You must still respond to the Household Enquiry Form (HEF) to confirm that there are no changes to make to the electoral register at your address. You can send a “no change” response using any of the following methods, and will need to provide both parts of your security code (printed in bold on the front page of your HEF) when responding

  • Visit householdresponse.com/nottingham
  • Call the automated phone service on 0800 197 9871. When prompted, you can confirm that all the details on your HEF are correct.
  • Text ‘NOCHANGE’, followed by both parts of your security code, to 80212. Standard charges may apply.

Please only return your completed HEF by post if you are unable to use any of the options above. If you are returning the paper form to tell us that there are no changes, please complete the Declaration in Section 5 and send the form back in the return envelope addressed to Electoral Reform Services, London.

You do not need to return the paper form if you have already responded using one of the automated options.

What do I need to do if the information on my HEF is incorrect and needs changing?

You must inform us if the information on your Household Enquiry Form (HEF) is no longer accurate and needs updating.

Please record any changes to your HEF by visiting www.householdresponse.com/nottingham - you will be asked for both parts of your security code, which are printed in bold on the front page of your HEF.

Please only return your completed HEF by post if you are unable to respond online. If you are returning the paper form to tell us about changes at your address, please make any relevant amendments in Sections 2-4, then complete the Declaration in Section 5 and send the form back in the return envelope addressed to Electoral Reform Services, London.

You do not need to return the paper form if you have already responded using the online HEF response service.

What changes do I need to inform you of?

You can notify us of any changes to your Household Enquiry Form (HEF) by submitting your response at www.householdresponse.com/nottingham.

If you are unable to use the online HEF response service, you can return your paper form by post. In this instance, please make any relevant amendments in Sections 2-4, then complete the Declaration in Section 5 and send the form back in the return envelope addressed to Electoral Reform Services, London.

Where possible, please use the online service rather than returning the paper form.

Please inform us that the details on your HEF need changing if

Anyone has moved in or out

If someone is listed on the HEF who no longer lives at your address, or if someone has moved in and is not listed on the HEF, please remove/add their details as appropriate.

Please note that adding a person’s name to the HEF does not automatically add them to the electoral register. Anyone whose details are added to the HEF will also need to register themselves to vote by going online to www.gov.uk/registertovote or, if they cannot use the website, by completing and returning the Invitation To Register (ITR) form that we post out to them. The registration process takes about five minutes and requires people to provide additional information, including their date of birth and National Insurance number.

If you cross out somebody’s name on your HEF, we will seek a second source of information to confirm that the individual is not resident at your address, allowing us to then remove them from the electoral register at the property.

Anyone is aged 76 or over

If someone in your household is aged 76 or over but this is not marked on the HEF, please let us know by amending these details.

The electoral register is used to select people for jury service, but anyone aged 76 or over is not eligible to be a juror. Therefore, we have to note their age on the electoral register so they are exempt from being selected for jury service.

Anyone’s nationality has changed or is incorrect

If someone in your household has changed their nationality, or their nationality has been recorded incorrectly, please let us know by amending these details on your HEF.

Your nationality has implications for which elections you can vote in - or for whether you can register to vote at all - so it is important that we have the correct nationality recorded for everyone in your household.

Please note that if your change in nationality affects which elections you can vote in, we may need to contact you for further information before we can update your registration.

Anyone would like to request or cancel an absent (postal or proxy) vote

If someone in your household would like to change their voting method from voting in person to voting by post/proxy (or vice versa), please let us know by amending these details on your HEF.

Any individuals who amend the HEF to request a postal or proxy vote will be sent a copy of the relevant application form by email or post. In order to secure their absent vote, they will need to complete and return this form. Alternatively, they can go online to the Nottingham City Council website to download, complete and return the relevant application form.

Any individuals who amend the HEF to cancel a postal or proxy vote will be notified when their request has been processed. They will then have to cast their vote in person at future elections unless they choose to re-apply for a postal or proxy vote.

Anyone would like to change their ‘open register’ preference

If someone in your household would like to change their open register preference to be included on or removed from the open register, please let us know by amending these details on your HEF. Anyone who amends their open register preference on the HEF will be sent a form requiring them to confirm their choice.

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.

All registered voters are given the option to include or remove their details from the open register. This decision will not affect your right to vote.

What is the deadline for responding to the HEF?

Any households that have not yet responded to their original or reminder Household Enquiry Form (HEF) should expect a visit from a personal canvasser in order to collect their HEF response. All personal canvassers will have a Nottingham City Council ID card and will be wearing a hi-vis jacket. The canvasser will ask you for your response to the HEF and assist you to register to vote if necessary. They will record your answers on an electronic tablet.

If you haven’t yet responded to the HEF but you still have the form, you can avoid a canvasser visit by responding to the HEF using the online service or by completing the form and sending it back in the return envelope addressed to Electoral Reform Services, London. If there are no changes to make at your address, you can also respond using the automated phone line or text service.

Responding to the HEF helps to ensure that you can vote in future elections, whether they are pre-scheduled or called at short notice.

Do I need to do anything else after responding to my HEF?

If you have responded to the Household Enquiry Form (HEF) confirming that the details on the form are correct then you do not have to do anything further.

However, if you have added any new names to your HEF, these individuals will also need to register themselves to vote. They can do so by going online to www.gov.uk/registertovote or, if they cannot use the website, by completing and returning the Invitation To Register (ITR) form that we post out to them. The registration process takes about five minutes and requires people to provide additional information, including their date of birth and National Insurance number.

By registering to vote online/completing an ITR you will:

  • secure your right to vote
  • improve your credit rating
  • ensure that you have access to council services
  • avoid an £80 fine and multiple ITR reminder letters

What should I do if I realise that I made a mistake when responding to my HEF?

If you have responded to your Household Enquiry Form (HEF) and realise that you made a mistake, please contact Electoral Services on 0115 876 4111, or at elections@nottinghamcity.gov.uk, to advise which information was entered incorrectly and what the correct information should be. Please do not attempt to submit another response via one of the automated channels or by post.

When you make contact with us, please tell us your postcode and house number, and – if possible - your two part HEF security code (printed in bold on the front page of the form). We will amend the information as you instruct to ensure that the right details are recorded for your household.

Why have I received an Invitation To Register (ITR) form?

An Invitation To Register (ITR) form is sent out to anybody whose details have been added to the Household Enquiry Form (HEF) but who hasn’t then registered to vote online.

The HEF notifies us that there is a new individual living at the property who is eligible to register, so we send them the ITR to collect any additional information required to complete the voter registration process. People who receive an ITR can either complete their voter registration online at www.gov.uk/registertovote, or by filling out and returning their ITR.

We cannot add people to the electoral register directly from the HEF. This is because the law changed in 2014 to require individuals to register themselves to vote. They must do so by providing relevant information, including their date of birth and National Insurance number, which can be checked against records held by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to verify their identity.

If you do not go online to register through the government website, or alternatively complete and return an ITR that is sent to you, we will not be able to add you to the electoral register and you will not be able to vote.

By registering to vote online/completing an ITR you will:

  • secure your right to vote
  • improve your credit rating
  • ensure that you have access to council services
  • avoid an £80 fine and multiple ITR reminder letters

Please note that registering online/returning an ITR does not guarantee that we will be able to add you to the register of electors immediately. If the details you submit when registering do not match those held by DWP, we will contact you to request further information so we can confirm your identity and verify your electoral registration.

What if I do not want to register to vote?

Even if you do not want to register to vote, you still need to respond to your Household Enquiry Form (HEF) giving the details of everyone at your property who is eligible to register. If you do not respond to the HEF you could face a fine of up to £1,000.

We are obliged to send an Invitation To Register (ITR) form to anyone whose details were added to the HEF and who hasn’t then registered to vote online. People who receive an ITR must respond to this form.

Anyone who does not respond to their ITR/refuses to register to vote could face an £80 fine and will be delayed in accessing certain non-statutory services from Nottingham City Council, including parking permits, pest control and bulky waste collection.

What if there is nobody in my household who is eligible to register to vote?

If there is nobody in your household who is eligible to register to vote, you still need to notify us by responding to your Household Enquiry Form (HEF) at www.householdresponse.com/nottingham.

If the HEF you have received is already blank, you can also record a “no change” response using the automated phone line (0800 197 9871) or text service (text ‘NOCHANGE’ followed by your two-part security code to 80212).

If you are unable to use one of the automated services, please complete the paper form - ensuring you tick the relevant box in Section 4 and complete the Declaration in Section 5 - and send it back in the return envelope addressed to Electoral Reform Services, London.

Wherever possible, please submit your HEF response using an online, phone or text service rather than returning your paper form.

What if I’m a student living in Nottingham and I have a second (home) address?

If you are a student living in Nottingham, you still need to respond to the Household Enquiry Form (HEF) sent to your term-time address by visiting www.householdresponse.com/nottingham. This is true even if you are an international student or you are already registered to vote at your home address. You could receive a fine of up to £1,000 if we do not receive a HEF response for your property.

Please remove the details of any individuals on the HEF who are no longer living at the address. If everybody living at your term-time address is a student, please check with your house/flatmates whether they want to register to vote in Nottingham. As students, you are eligible to be registered at both your home and term-time addresses (but you can only vote from one location at national elections).

Any student who decides that they do not want to register in Nottingham - either because they are an international student or because they are already registered at home - should not include their details on the HEF.*

However, if there are students at your address who do want to register in Nottingham, please add their details to the HEF. These individuals should then go online to www.gov.uk/registertovote to register to vote at their term-time address. It will take five minutes and they will need their National Insurance number. Anyone who is added to the HEF and does not register online will receive an Invitation to Register (ITR) form through the post which they must respond to.

Whilst students do not have to register in Nottingham, joining the electoral register here enables you to vote from your term-time address, which you may find useful if a snap election is called and you can’t get home to vote. It will also help you to access certain non-statutory services from Nottingham City Council, such as parking permits, pest control and bulky waste collection.

*If the entire student household chooses not to register in Nottingham, please make a note on the paper HEF stating that you are students and do not want to join the electoral register at your term-time address. You should then complete the Declaration in Section 5 before sending the form back in the return envelope addressed to Electoral Reform Services, London.

What if I am the landlord of a business premises or an empty property and a HEF has been sent to the address?

If you are the landlord of a business premises or an empty property, it is your responsibility to return the Household Enquiry Form (HEF) for that address. In either instance, please inform us that there is nobody eligible to register at the address by going online to www.householdresponse.com/nottingham.

If the HEF you have received is already blank, you can also record a “no change” response using the automated phone line (0800 197 9871) or text service (text ‘NOCHANGE’ followed by your two-part security code to 80212).

If you are unable to use one of the automated services, please complete the paper form - ensuring you tick the relevant box in Section 4 and complete the Declaration in Section 5 - and send it back in the return envelope addressed to Electoral Reform Services, London.

Wherever possible, please submit your HEF response using an online, phone or text service rather than returning your paper form.

What if I have received a HEF for my second home?

If you are a second home owner and there is nobody else living at your second address, you are responsible for responding to the Household Enquiry Forms (HEFs) for both of your properties.

If you split your time equally between your two properties, you are entitled to be registered to vote at both addresses (although you can only vote from one location in national elections). If you would like to be registered at your second property and your name is not already included on the HEF, please add your details by visiting www.householdresponse.com/nottingham and then visit www.gov.uk/registertovote to register to vote online*. If your details are already recorded correctly on the HEF, you can also submit a “no change” response using the automated phone line (0800 197 9871) or text service (text ‘NOCHANGE’ followed by your two-part security code to 80212).

If you spend less than half of your time at your second property, or if you only wish to be registered at your primary address, please notify us by visiting www.householdresponse.com/nottingham. If the HEF you have received is already blank, you can also submit a “no change” response using the automated phone line (0800 197 9871) or text service (text ‘NOCHANGE’ followed by your two-part security code to 80212).

If you are unable to use one of the automated services, please complete the paper HEF, adding/confirming your details if you do want to be registered, or ticking the relevant box in Section 4 if you don’t want to be registered at your second address. Please then complete the Declaration in Section 5 before sending the form back in the return envelope addressed to Electoral Reform Services, London.

*If your name is added to the HEF at your second property and you do not subsequently register to vote at this address using the government website, we will send you an Invitation To Register (ITR) form in the post which you must respond to.

What if I am responsible for returning the HEF for a house of multiple occupancy (HMO) e.g. a care home or student halls of residence?

If you are responsible for returning the Household Enquiry Form (HEF) for a large number of residents in a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO), please do so by going online to www.householdresponse.com/nottingham. Please note that your response must be recorded in one visit to the website only – you cannot save and return to a part-finished response at a later time.

If you cannot access the online service you can return the paper HEF, although you may find there is not enough space on the form for you to record any changes. In this instance, please write any additional names on a separate sheet/s of paper and attach it to the HEF, completing the Declaration in Section 5 before sending the form back in the return envelope addressed to Electoral Reform Services, London.

If you are responding to the HEF for a care home where some of the residents may lack the mental capacity to register themselves to vote, please consult the Electoral Commission’s guidance for care staff.

If you are responding to the HEF for a student halls of residence, where possible please only include the names of students who want to register to vote in Nottingham. After their names have been added to the HEF, these individuals should then go online to www.gov.uk/registertovote to register at their Nottingham address. It will take five minutes and they will need their National Insurance number. Anyone who is added to the HEF and does not register online will receive an Invitation to Register (ITR) form through the post which they must respond to.

What if somebody in my household does not have the mental capacity to register themselves to vote?

If somebody in your household lacks the mental capacity to register themselves to vote, the individual with power of attorney (POA) over that person’s affairs will need to decide how to proceed when responding to the Household Enquiry Form (HEF).

If the POA wants the person to be registered to vote, they must add the person’s details to the HEF – as well as making any other necessary changes to the form - by going online to www.householdresponse.com/nottingham.* If the person’s name is already included on the HEF and all their details are correct, then no amendments need to be made to their entry.

Alternatively, the POA can decide not to add the person’s name to the HEF. Where the person’s details are already included on the HEF, they need not be removed, as we cannot disenfranchise pre-existing voters on the grounds of mental capacity.

If the POA cannot access the online HEF response service, they can complete the paper form (remembering to sign the Declaration in Section 5) and send it back in the return envelope addressed to Electoral Reform Services, London.

*The POA will then need to register the person to vote at www.gov.uk/registertovote. If the person is not registered to vote online, an Invitation To Register (ITR) form will be posted out to them, which the POA will need to fill out and sign on the person’s behalf if they are unable to sign it/make their mark themselves. If the POA signs the ITR, we may request to see a certified copy of their Power of Attorney form with the completed ITR.

Please note that only the person themselves or the POA can make the declaration as part of the person’s application to register to vote.

What if I am in danger/my life is at risk and I do not want to disclose my details on the HEF or ITR forms?

If you are concerned about your name and address appearing on the electoral register because it could affect your safety, or the safety of someone living with you, you may be able to register anonymously.

In this instance please complete your paper Household Enquiry Form (HEF), making a note on the HEF to request an anonymous registration application form. Remember to cross out the name of anyone listed on the HEF who no longer lives at the address, and to complete the Declaration in Section 5 before sending the form back in the return envelope addressed to Electoral Reform Services, London.

When we receive your HEF, we will send you an application form to register anonymously, which you should complete and return along with evidence to support your application. We can accept any of the following as supporting evidence…

  • a current court order, interdict or injunction protecting you
  • a current court order, interdict or injunction protecting someone in your household, together with proof (e.g. photo-card driving licence or utility bill) that you live in the same household as them
  • an attestation from a qualifying officer supporting your application. A qualifying officer can be:
    • A police officer of or above the rank of superintendent in any police force in the UK;
    • Director General of the Security Services or the National Crime Agency;
    • A Director of Adult Social Services or Children’s Services in England, a Director of Social Services in Wales, a Chief Social Work Officer in Scotland, a Director of Social Services or an Executive Director of Social Work in Northern Ireland.

Read more about registering to vote anonymously.

What if I do not have a fixed address?

You will not receive a Household Enquiry Form (HEF) if you do not have a fixed address, as these forms are sent to properties and not to individuals.

However, you can still register to vote even if you do not have a fixed address. This could be because:

  • You are homeless
  • You are living on a boat or other movable residence
  • You are part of the travelling community
  • You are a person who has been remanded in custody, but you have not yet been convicted of any offence
  • You are a patient in a mental health hospital (sectioned under certain circumstances only)
  • You are a merchant seaman

To register to vote, you need to give a “qualifying address” where we can locate your registration. This could be a previous address that you still have ties to, an address where you spend the majority of your time, or an address where you would be living if it weren’t for your current situation.

You can register online by going to www.gov.uk/registertovote or alternatively, you can contact Electoral Services at elections@nottinghamcity.gov.uk or on 0115 876 4111 to request a registration form (no fixed address).

Read more about registering to vote with no fixed address.

What happens if I do not respond to the HEF or my ITR form?

If you do not respond to your Household Enquiry Form (HEF) or Invitation To Register (ITR), we will send you at least one reminder letter. If you do not respond to this letter either, we are legally obliged to send a personal canvasser to your home with a further reminder.

There is a criminal penalty for failing to provide the information required by the HEF, entailing a maximum fine of £1,000. The penalty for knowingly providing false information is imprisonment of up to six months and/or an unlimited fine.

If you do not provide us with the information requested on the ITR, you could face a fine of £80. Failing to register means that you will be unable to vote, you may be delayed in accessing certain non-statutory services from Nottingham City Council, and your credit rating could be affected.

 

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