Under the current system certain groups, such as students and people who work away from home, can be registered to vote in more than one place. While they are able to vote in local elections in the different areas where they are registered, it is a criminal offence to vote more than once in a general election or referendum. This is punishable by an unlimited fine in England and Wales, or a fine of up to £5,000 in Scotland.
In its report on this year’s general election, the Electoral Commission warned: "Although people may lawfully be registered to vote in more than one place in certain circumstances, it is troubling that some voters appear to have admitted voting more than once at the general election, which is an offence."
It has admitted that there is no way of knowing the scale of voter duplication, due to there being no central database holding the details of eligible voters.
In a bid to tackle the problem, the independent elections watchdog has called for "immediate steps" to help "reduce the number and impact of duplicate applications."
It added: "These steps include reviewing public awareness campaign activities and messaging on the government and other websites signposting to the online registration service, and improving the wording on the online registration service to remind applicants that they may not need to apply again."
There needs to be an overhaul of existing comms, according to the report, which was released last month.
It stated: "We will work with all of the UK’s governments and EROs [Electoral Registration Officers] to review public awareness campaign activities and messaging on the government and other websites signposting to the online registration service, and to improve the wording on the online registration service to remind applicants that they may not need to apply again."
The report added: "These changes should be developed and implemented as quickly as possible so that they are in place in time for registration ahead of elections in May 2018 at the latest."
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