The Daily Fascist, a newspaper always active on the junk mail front, has just broken the news that Government is to hold a public consultation on the question whether or not to abolish the Edited Electoral Register.
To refresh your memory, in July this year the Information Commissioner recommended that local Councils stop selling voters' personal information to bulk mailers (or indeed anyone prepared to pay a small fee). The Commissioner's report stated that "selling the edited register is an unsatisfactory way for local authorities to treat personal information" and that it "sends a particularly poor message to the public that personal information collected for something as vital as participation in the democratic process can be sold to 'anyone for any purpose'."
Although it's good news that the issue will now finally be discussed, one wonders why a full public consultation is needed. There simply is no good argument against abolishing the register. It's the primary source for the creation of junk mail lists and for voters there's absolutely no advantage whatsoever in being on the register.
The only reason for its existence seems to be that it allows local Councils to generate some extra income. But even that argument is flawed. Recent research by the Local Government Association found that councils receive an average of £1,900 annually for selling voters' personal details. Scrapping the edited roll would have an negligible financial impact on local authorities.
What's more, the survey also found that 98 per cent of elections officers in councils around the country agree that the Government should change the law to prevent marketeers from gaining access to the electoral register and that almost 90 per cent believe the practice of selling the electoral roll discourages people from registering to vote.
Nevertheless, it looks like the register will be around for a little while longer. If you're not sure if you've opted out, or if you would like to opt out, it would make sense to contact your local elections office.