Freedom of Information: electoral roll and elections

We are frequently asked for information about the electoral roll and elections information in Harrow. For example, questions about how many people are on the roll

In total or in particular areas, who has access to the edited roll and whom it has been shared with. We may also have questions about turn out at elections and other information held by the Returning Officer (often called the Counting Officer in a Referendum). The council does not hold this information. This response explains why:

The Electoral Registration Officer (ERO), Constituency Returning Officer (RO) and Counting Officer (CO) are appointed under the Representation of the People Act and are ‘statutory office holders’. This means they carry out their elections duties in their own personal capacity and not on behalf of the council. Staff who undertake elections/referenda work do this on behalf of those statutory office holders and under their direction. This means they are acting as the CO/ERO/RO.

The CO/ERO/RO is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This is because the Act only applies to ‘public authorities’. The CO/ERO/RO are not a public authority for the purposes of the Act. This is because they are not in the list of public authorities in Schedule 1 of the Act and a Ministerial Order under s5 has not been made saying they are a public authority.

Although Harrow holds the information on its systems it doesn’t hold this on the council’s behalf: it holds it for the statutory office holders so they can do their duties properly and effectively. Under the Freedom of Information Act holding only on someone’s else’s behalf means we do not hold it under the terms of the Act. Therefore Harrow does not hold this information for Freedom of Information Act purposes.

The Electoral Commission publishes a lot of information about elections and referenda. You might find some of the information you are looking for is on their website, www.electoralcommission.org.uk 

The council does publish the results of elections here

Information about the electoral register and the open register is available at www.gov.uk/electoral-register