Who is the Data Controller?

Electoral Services supports the statutory functions of:

  • The Electoral Registration Officer who is responsible for compiling and maintaining the electoral register and for matters relating to voter registration
  • The Returning Officer who is responsible for administering elections and referendums

The Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer are registered as a Data Controller with the Information Commissioner’s Office (registration number Z5445889).

Why do we collect your information?

We collect and process personal information to support the statutory functions and responsibilities of the Electoral Registration Officer and the Returning Officer. This includes the compilation of the electoral register and the administration of elections and referendums.

The lawful basis for collecting personal information is that it is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest and exercise of official authority as vested in the Electoral Registration Officer as set out in the Representation of the People Act 1983 and including, but not limited to, the following electoral legislation:

  • Local Government Act 1972 (as amended)
  • Representation of the People Act 1983 (as amended)
  • Representation of the People Act 1985 (as amended)
  • Representation of the People Act 2000 (as amended)
  • Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (as amended)
  • Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001 (as amended)
  • Local Elections (Principal Areas) (England and Wales) Rules 2006 (as amended)
  • Electoral Administration Act 2006 (as amended)
  • Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (as amended)
  • Neighbourhood Planning (Referendums) Regulations 2012 (as amended)
  • Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (as amended)
  • Elections Act 2022
  • Voter Identification Regulations 2022
  • Representation of the People (Postal and Proxy Voting) (Amendment) Regulations 2023

What information do we collect?

We keep records about voters (including potential voters), election candidates and agents and staff employed at elections and referendums or voter registration canvassing activities.

We may collect and process the following information:

  • Name, address, date of birth and nationality
  • Unique identifiers such as your national insurance number
  • Contact details including phone number or email address
  • Previous address, correspondence address or last UK address
  • If you are aged 76 or over or 16/17 years of age
  • Whether your name is included on the open version of the electoral register
  • Signatures on application forms
  • IP address for online applications to register to vote
  • Photographs for individuals making an application for a Voter Authority Certificate and Anonymous Elector Documents
  • Name, address and contact details for an appointed proxy
  • Details of a disability or health matter that may have been disclosed in connection with an application to vote by post or proxy
  • Details of someone who has assisted a voter with an application
  • The names of other occupants and potential electors in a household
  • Scanned copies of application forms
  • Information contained on documents provided or attestations to confirm identity
  • Court documents and attestations to support anonymous registration applications
  • Details of service, service number, rank/rating and regiment for members of the armed forces or their spouses registering as service voters
  • Employment details for Crown Servants/British Council employees or their spouses
  • Notes about any relevant circumstances provided by residents
  • Names and contact details for landlords and other persons responsible for multiple occupancy dwellings, care homes, sheltered housing and university halls of residence.
  • Election documentation including the marked copy of the polling station register or postal voting list which shows whether a voter has voted
  • Details included on the candidate’s nomination forms which may include details of land or property owned or occupied by the candidate, the candidate’s principal place of work, the name, address and contact details of appointed agents and the names, elector numbers and signatures of proposer, seconder and supporting subscribers
  • Details included on election candidate expenses documentation which may include personal details including campaign donors or those providing goods or services in connection with the campaign
  • Details about our suppliers, contractors and others who provide services including contact information
  • Details about permitted persons or organisations making requests for copies of the register and associated lists
  • Complaints and feedback
  • Responses to consultations and surveys
  • Human resources data
  • Photographs where staff employed require photographic identification cards

Some of the information that we collect is classified as special category information or high-risk data, including:

  • Nationality information included in applications to register to vote which may reveal race or ethnic origin
  • Information relating to a disability or heath condition which may be contained in applications to vote by proxy
  • Information contained on a candidate nomination paper, including subscriber details, which may reveal political opinions
  • Contact information for polling station venues where that venue is a place of worship may reveal religious belief
  • Information relating to criminal convictions may be included in applications to register to vote by a prisoner on remand, on supporting documentation accompanying an application to register as an anonymous voter or evidence of identity to support an application to register to vote or for a Voter Authority Certificate
  • Personal information collected for the registration of anonymous voters is classified as high-risk data due to the risk of physical harm

We may use third party suppliers to collect information required in order to compile the electoral register. The current service provider is Civica Election Services and their privacy notice can be viewed via thee Civica website.

In accordance with Section 35 of the Representation of the People Regulations 2001 (as amended), the Electoral Registration Officer is entitled for the purposes of maintaining the electoral register to inspect any other records held by Portsmouth City Council. Furthermore, Section 9A of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (as amended) imposes a duty to take necessary steps to maintain the electoral register which includes checking other available records. The information accessed may include records held relating to Council Tax, housing tenancy, housing benefits, education and Registrars data. This information is used to confirm existing entries in the register and identify individuals not yet registered or no longer resident.

How we use your information

The Electoral Registration Officer uses your information to:

  • Compile, publish and maintain the electoral register
  • Process applications submitted to us
  • Complete an identity check using Department of Work and Pensions records for applications to register to vote, vote by post or vote by proxy or for Voter Authority Certificates
  • Undertake an annual canvass of households to determine who is eligible to be included on the electoral register (this may include contacting you directly using email or phone contact details provided by you)
  • Complete data matching against Department of Work and Pensions records and local authority data to validate entries in the electoral register prior to undertaking the annual canvass exercise
  • Identify potential voters and encourage voter registration
  • Maintain records of postal and proxy voters
  • Recruit and pay supporting staff

The Returning Officer uses your information to:

  • Administer the voting process including polling stations and absent voting
  • Administer the nomination of election candidates and the appointment of agents
  • Prepare statutory election documents and notices including poll card letters
  • Recruit and pay supporting staff

How do we keep personal information secure?

We take appropriate steps to make sure that the personal information we hold (on paper and electronically) is kept securely and only used by people who have a right to see it. The Council’s security measures include encrypting personal data and equipment, system access controls and training in data protection for all staff.

Where another company or organisation processes personal information on our behalf, they will only process your personal information in line with our instructions and are obliged to provide security assurances to the Council and to certain regulatory bodies. 

How long do we keep hold of personal information?

Your information will be held and updated in accordance with our legal obligations and statutory retention periods.

Documentation relating to a particular election, for example, ballot papers, polling station documents and postal voting records, are held for one year. Candidate election expenses returns are held for two years.

Sharing or disclosing personal information

To verify your identity when your register to vote, apply for a Voter Authority Certificate or apply for an absent vote, the data you provide will be shared electronically with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities suppliers that are data processors. Data may be collected via the GOV.UK citizen facing application services and processed in the Electoral Registration Officer Portal provided by the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities. You can find more information about this via Gov.uk.

As part of the annual canvass (review) process, data from the electoral register is used to undertake a data-matching exercise against records held the Department for Work and Pensions. This is completed annually at the start of the canvass exercise from June/July. Data is transferred securely via the Individual Electoral Registration Digital Service managed by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

The Electoral Registration Officer is required to publish the electoral register and this is available for public inspection under supervision in Portsmouth Central Library.

Information from the electoral register may also be shared with or disclosed to:

  • Companies supplying services to us including contracted printers who produce poll card letters, postal voting packs, voter registration forms and canvass forms, with our software suppliers and the GOV.UK Notify service
  • Local and national political parties, elected representatives and election candidates
  • Credit reference agencies
  • Portsmouth City Council for statutory functions (including for participation in the annual National Fraud Initiative) and the Council’s library and archives service
  • The British Library, the Jury Summoning Bureau, the Electoral Commission, the UK Statistics Authority and other statutory recipients of the electoral register
  • Other organisations when the law requires us to disclose information including for the prevention and detection of crime and the National Fraud Initiative

The regulations which apply to the supply and use of the electoral register can be viewed via legislation.gov

The open version of the electoral register is available for general sale. Further information on the two versions of the electoral register can be viewed via legislation.gov

The Returning Officer is required to publish certain statutory election notices which may include details of the name and address of candidates, the names and signatures of individuals subscribing candidate nomination papers, and the name and address of election agents.

Certain election documents may be supplied or inspected in accordance with Sections 117 and 118 of the Representation of the People (England and Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2006 respectively.

The Electoral Registration Officer may use the GOV.UK Notify service to contact residents or registered electors in connection with the compilation or maintenance of the Register of Electors. Further information can be via Gov.uk.

The Returning Officer also uses the GOV.UK Notify service to contact election candidates, agents or staff employed in connection with an election.

Following a statutory review of polling districts and polling places, the local authority is required to publish any correspondence, including representations, received in connection with the review in accordance with Section 4 of the Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places (Parliamentary Elections) Regulations 2006 (as amended).

Access to personal information

Individuals can find out if we hold any personal information by making a ‘subject access request’. If we do hold information about you we will:

  • give you a description of it;
  • tell you why we are holding it;
  • tell you who it could be disclosed to; and
  • let you have a copy of the information in an intelligible form.

To make a request for your personal information, please contact:

Data Protection Officer,
Portsmouth City Council,
Civic Offices,

Email: dataprotection@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

Tel: 023 9268 8482

Complaints or queries

We take any complaints we receive very seriously. Please bring it to our attention if you think that our collection or use of information is unfair, misleading or inappropriate. We are happy to provide any additional information or explanation about how we collect and use personal information.

Any complaints, queries or requests should be sent to the Council’s Data Protection Officer.

Email: dataprotection@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

Telephone: 023 9283 4385

For independent advice about data protection, privacy and sharing issues, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) at:

Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Tel: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745 (if you prefer to use a national rate number).

Changes to this privacy notice

This privacy notice was last updated on 8 December 2023.

How to contact Electoral Services

Tel: 023 9283 4074

Email: elections@portsmouthcc.gov.uk