(If you want the gist, and can’t be arsed to read the following rant, to doubly check you are registered to vote and have given all (newly, quietly introduced) required info, go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and give NI number, date of birth etc).
MPs must have a laugh amongst each other on the District Line from Wimbledon on their way into work, about what they are going to do that day to squeeze more money out of the nation.
This is a result of the Electoral Registrations and Administrations Bill that has just passed through this year. Read more about the change from household to Individual Electoral Registration (IER) via the Three Rivers Borough website.
You’d hope there would be betterment schemes being planned, problems being solved, funding being allocated into places that will save other costs across the board etc. But no.
Government departments and local authorities have become like the Sheriff of Nottingham, turning law abiding citizens into Robin Hoods by the dozen.
Despite the proliferation of media, social networks, technology etc, the recent introduction of a fine if you don’t register to vote is being so badly communicated that chaos is surely going to break out (and give ebola a run for its money).
To do councils jobs for them, this is what to expect:
1. If you are new to your address or a new voter, you get a generically addressed “household enquiry form”. This looks like the already (previously known) recognised quick, simple electoral registration process, which only asks for the names of the people over 18 in the household.
(There was mention on this form of a possible up to £1,000 fine).
2. Then (no publicity, no media, no awareness campaign) you get an individually named form asking for NI number, date of birth and optional contact details.
This is where councils should be sanctioned for their inability to choose the correct words to put on their letters. Therefore:
Even though this is the FIRST mention of wanting NI numbers, (NO publicity, NO media, NO advertising, NO awareness campaign) in italics in the first paragraph it says:
“If you have already responded to a previous letter inviting you to register, please ignore this reminder – there is sometimes a delay processing applications.”
This could not be more incorrect, misleading and confusing, therefore causing people stress and distraction. That’s what we pay council tax for? Cheers.
1. ‘Already responded”. Yes, to the household enquiry form asking for names of voters in the household. But this one is individually named and the names came from the “previous letter” (see below). Downright confusing, misleading and distracting. (Deliberately to collect those fines off the honest but unwitting?).
2. What “previous letter”. Could they not NAME or DESCRIBE it? Surely it’s a “form” not a “letter”? It could be anything. Is this deliberately misleading to rake in all those fines??????? The only “previous letter” I had was the “household enquiry forms” (you only get this description when you PHONE UP to ASK) which DIDN’T tell me that it would be followed by another step in the process in which new information is now being requested. therefore:
3. “Please ignore this reminder”. It’s a REMINDER is it? Reminding me what? I have filled in one form. (Should have said you will receive ANOTHER FORM, not act as if that is that, you have now registered to vote. NO. “We have changed the system and you will receive another form.” NO, OF COURSE THOSE WORDS WERE MISSING IN ACTION.
(Instead of the word “reminder” let’s call it a “form” and for clarity, the words “we have just changed the system and now want your NI number, so if you haven’t already provided this please fill in the form or go to the website.” should appear. Clarity? The only thing in common with councils and clarity is starting with the letter c, which is also the start of another word for councils).
4. “There is sometimes a delay in processing applications”. No. They are totally not on top of the paperwork they have caused by confusing, misleading and distracting EVERYONE. EVERYBODY. It also means “there is another step in this process when we come back and ask for more info, so your application isn’t completed yet.”
Then it says: “to make sure you stay registered to vote…”. No. What is means is (but could never in the fucking world say anything close) is “we now want your NI number and date of birth. We didn’t warn you on the previous letter and therefore now you need to give us those details.”
Why they now have to do this is in 2 whole separate stages is beyond me. In most people’s point of reference, there is one form that provides the names of people old enough to vote. If there IS more info wanted, why didn’t they send out the new form in the first place? We CAN ACTUALLY fill in our own details.
The problem is, we now have no power over the way the public sector spends our tax money. Had it been me, I would have written to each household saying:
We have introduced new rules to make everyone over 18 vote, using a fine if they ignore the electoral register.
Now we want you to tell us your name, address, date of birth, national insurance number and, if you want to but don’t have to, your contact details.
Fill in this form and return it in the prepaid envelope or go online and the system will walk you through.
Thank you for your time.
How much public money could THAT have saved us in time, postage, paper and printing?
None of this bollocks about ‘staying’ registered to vote (requiring more details) or a remind (compulsory form, first sighting too) or ‘delay in processing’ (you haven’t finished the process and we want more info but are incapable of saying anything remotely close to this).
And I expect an awareness campaign in the press so that councils are acting responsibly about ensuring the new information and changes to the system have landed in everyone’s worlds so no one can say they didn’t know, thought they were already registered, had ‘responded to a previous letter’ so didn’t complete the process or didn’t realise they had to register to vote or would be fined.
If these mailings have not reached everyone that is the RESPONSE to the council’s communication impact, and they need to grow the ABILITY to take this as evidence of a massive fail on THEIR part. That would be RESPONSE ABILITY. ABILITY TO RESPOND AND TAKE A RESPONSE. Not put the whole onus on the other person who had no control over what councils chose to do or say to correct their mistakes.
There is of course the usual concerned press about these quiet and sneaky changes that ripple underneath the skin of generally accepted public perception.
Actually, N.B. Are there REALLY enough people for this question:
Just shows how patronising the public sector is about the nation.