A short guide to the annual canvass

What is canvass?

The annual canvass is designed to get the name and address of every person who should be on the register of electors (those people who may vote at elections and referendums).

The register is the basis of UK democracy, and the accuracy of the register is extremely important. No other body obtains yearly information on the complete list of persons of voting age, and in the format needed to make a register that can be used to run elections.

The electoral register is also used to call persons for jury service, and as the base for credit checking as proof of a person’s identity.

About the process

Registration during the annual canvass is a 'two-stage' process. It needs information from both properties and individual electors.

1 Stage one: CCA and CCB letters SHOW

2 Stage two: Invitation to Register SHOW

What is a canvasser?

As a canvasser, you will go from door to door of every property you are assigned, to gain the necessary details to correctly register all eligible persons at the property.

You will have to communicate effectively with the people you meet on the doorstep and be committed to achieving the maximum number of accurately completed registrations from the properties and individuals in the area assigned to you.

You will be issued with an identity card. When making visits you must always carry this with you, explain the purpose of your visit and make it clear that you are representing Southampton City Council.

Canvassing is a potentially interesting and enjoyable task. If you follow these basic instructions, it should be quite straightforward for you to achieve your objectives.

The timetable for the canvass is set in law so it is extremely important that you meet all your deadlines for knocking on doors and achieving completed registrations.

Objectives as a canvasser

At stage one of the canvass, you will visit every household in your canvass area that has not responded to the initial CCB letter and obtain a completed Canvass Form.

For stage two of the canvass, it is a similar process, but you will visit individuals in your canvass area who have not completed the individual registration process and obtain a completed ITR.

You will be provided with two types of Canvass Form – ‘pre-printed’ forms where we know the names of the people who were previously living at the address and ‘blank’ forms where our records show that the property may have been previously unoccupied:

If you have a ‘pre-printed’ form and can contact someone at the address, you should check to make sure that the information printed on the form is still correct.

You will also need to collect the names and nationalities of any new residents. If the information is on a hard copy form, you must make sure that a householder signs it.

If you have a ‘blank’ form and you can contact someone at the address, you should collect the names and nationalities of everyone living there who is eligible to register. Again, if the information is on a hard copy form, you must make sure that a householder signs it.

For the stage two ITR canvass: Each ITR will be pre-printed with the name and address of those persons who have not yet completed the individual registration process. You may have more than one form per property.

Where you can contact an individual, you should try to collect the personal information required, like nationality, date of birth, National Insurance number either electronically or on the hard copy form.

If the information is on the hard copy form, you must make sure that the person concerned signs it.

As well as the Canvass Forms and ITR, you will be given worksheets with properties for which a completed Canvass Form is needed, and those individuals who have not completed an ITR.

These worksheets provide a formal audit trail for the work you will be undertaking, and it is important that they are completed and returned.

If you cannot contact or get the information

If you cannot contact someone at an address, or if anyone is reluctant to give you the information on the doorstep, you can leave the relevant form (Canvass Form or ITR) with a pre-paid return envelope and encourage them to use the electronic registration service or to return the completed form by post.