Warning over £80 fine if you don't register for General Election - even if you don't vote

People risk a fine if they don't register for the General Election 2024
-Credit: (Image: PA)

People are being urged to make sure they register to vote in the General Election or face a fine - even if they don't want to vote.

In the run up to July 4, local authorities will be contacting constituents asking them to confirm their details or add their names to the electoral register. While voting in an election is voluntary in the UK, the law makes it compulsory for everyone to provide information to an electoral registration officer if asked.

Once registered, it is up to you whether you then head to the polls to vote or not. The electoral register, or electoral roll, holds details such as your name, address, national insurance number, nationality and age.

According to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), as well as being used for election purposes, the register is also used by local authorities to make council tax checks and determine eligibility for housing benefit. It can also be used by the police for law enforcement purposes and by courts to summon people for jury service, reports the Manchester Evening News.

The electoral register is different to the open register (or edited register), which contains the same information as the electoral register but can be sold to businesses and charities. You are allowed to choose to opt out of having your details included in the open register.

If you get a letter through your door or a visit from an electoral registration officer you have to provide them with the information they ask for, otherwise you could get a fine of up to a maximum of £1,000. Regulation 23 of the Representation of the People Regulations 2001 states that: "A registration officer may require any person to give information required for the purposes of that officer's duties in maintaining registers of electors."

Legal expert Adam Pope, from Spencer Churchill Claims Advice, has issued a warning over the potential fine ahead of the June 18 deadline to register to vote in the General Election. He said: "The upcoming General Election highlights the importance of knowing how to vote and meeting the necessary deadlines.

"Statistics show that up to 8 million people in the UK might not be correctly registered at their current address, which may exclude them from participating. While casting a vote is voluntary, failing to register without a valid reason can result in a fine of £80.

"Voters have multiple ways to cast their ballots, including in person, by post, or through a proxy. It's essential to follow the application deadlines, as registration must be done 12 working days before polling day."

The government website has information on who must register to vote and how to do it. It states: "You must register to vote if you’re asked to do so and you meet the conditions for registering, for example you’re 16 or over and you’re British or a national of an EU or Commonwealth country.

"If you’re asked to register and do not, you could be fined. You will not be fined if you have a valid reason for not registering, for example a long stay in hospital, or you have severe learning difficulties." You can register to vote online here.