An electoral roll (variously called an electoral register, voters roll, Voters list , poll book or other description) is a compilation that lists persons who are entitled to vote for particular elections in a particular jurisdiction. The list is usually broken down by electoral districts, and is primarily prepared to assist election officials at polling places. Most jurisdictions maintain permanent electoral rolls, which are updated continuously or periodically (such as France which updates them annually), while some jurisdictions compile new electoral rolls before each election. Electoral rolls are the result of a process of voter registration. In most jurisdictions, voter registration (and being listed on an electoral roll) is a prerequisite for voting at an election. Some jurisdictions do not require voter registration, and do not use electoral rolls, such as the state of North Dakota in the United States. In those jurisdictions a voter must provide identification and proof of entitlement to vote before being permitted to vote.

Electoral rolls and voter registration serve a number of functions, especially to streamline voting on election day. Voter registration can be used to detect electoral fraud by enabling authorities to verify an applicant's identity and entitlement to a vote, and to ensure a person doesn't vote multiple times. In jurisdictions where voting is compulsory, the electoral roll is used to indicate who has failed to vote. In some jurisdictions, people to be selected for jury or other civil duties are chosen from an electoral roll.

Most jurisdictions close updating of electoral rolls some period, commonly 14 or 28 days, before an election, but some jurisdictions may allow registration at the same time as attending a polling station to vote; Australia closes its rolls seven days after an election is called, rather than with reference to the election day.

Traditionally, electoral rolls were maintained in paper form, either as loose-leaf folders or in printed pages, but nowadays electronic electoral rolls are increasingly being adopted. Similarly, the number of countries adopting biometric voter registration has steadily increased. As of 2016, half of the countries in Africa and Latin America use biometric technology for their electoral rolls.[1]



Australia maintains a permanent electoral roll, which is used for federal elections, by-elections and referendums. It also forms the basis of state (except in Western Australia, which compiles its own) and local electoral rolls.[2]

Enrolment is compulsory for all Australian citizens over the age of 18 years (with the exception of Norfolk Island, where enrolment is voluntary). Residents in Australia who had been enrolled as British subjects in 1984, though not Australian citizens, can continue to be enrolled. (These comprise about 9% of the electoral roll.) Normally, enrolment and change of details requires the lodgement of a form; but since 2009, New South Wales automatically updates enrolment details onto the state roll, but not the federal roll, from various government departmental sources.[3] State civil registrars are required to supply information, for example relating to death of a person, to enable names of deceased persons to be removed from electoral rolls.

When an election is called, a date for the "close of roll" is also announced, on which date processing of enrolments and changes of details to the roll is suspended.[4] Enrolment or change of details can be done online or by completing a form and sending it using regular mail, which must arrive by the deadline.

Currently, the electoral roll records just the name and address of the voter, although in previous years occupation was also recorded. Since 21 July 2004 the Commonwealth electoral roll cannot be sold in any format. It has not been produced in printed format since 1985, when it changed to publication on microfiche. Today, it is only produced in an electronic format, and can only be viewed at an Australian Electoral Commission or state electoral commission offices, each of which holds a copy of the electoral roll for the entire country. These arrangements try to strike a balance between privacy of the voters and the publication of the roll, which is integral to the conduct of free and fair elections, enabling participants to verify the openness and accountability of the electoral process and object to the enrolment of any elector. The elector information is provided to political parties, members of Parliament and candidates.[4]



Belgian citizens over the age of 18 who are registered in the population registers of each municipality are included on a voters' list.

Foreign nationals may apply to be registered on the voters' list for municipal elections, and nationals of the European Union may register for elections for the European Parliament. Approval as a voter remains valid for subsequent elections (unless waived in writing) and in the event of a change of residence in Belgium.[5]


Announcement of the annual revision of the electoral list of the 2nd arrondissement of Paris (1871)

Each municipality maintains a permanent electoral list which is updated annually. Only registered voters can vote. A complementary list is prepared for nationals of a Member State of the European Union for French ballots open to them, namely for European and municipal elections. Each voter has an obligation to be registered on only one electoral list, but there is no penalty, other than being prevented from voting.[6]

Since November 2009, pilot online registration has been permitted for a few municipalities, but was expected to expand.[7]

Hong Kong


The electoral roll in Hong Kong is maintained by the Registration and Electoral Office (REO). The final register is available every year on 25 July, except for years in which elections for the territory's district councils are held, when the final register is available on 15 September. All permanent residents of the territory, a status which required seven years of continuous residence, are eligible to be registered voters regardless of nationality or citizenship.[8]



In India, publishing and updating of the electoral roll is the responsibility of the Election Commission of India, each state's chief electoral officers, and each state's election commission. These government bodies update and publish the electoral roll every year, making it available for download from official government websites.

Total voters in India as on 1 January 2019 [9]

  • Total voters: 866,913,278.
  • Men: 451,966,704.
  • Women: 414,912,901.
  • Third gender: 33,673.

State wise electoral details for Lok Sabha election 2019:-[10]

No. State/Territory name Men Women Third gender
1. Andhra Pradesh 17162603 17409676 3146
2. Arunachal Pradesh 383804 389054 0


10627005 10004509 377
4. Bihar 36346421 32070788 2119
5. Chhattisgarh 9112766 8958481 721
6. Goa 545531 562930 0
7. Gujarat 22265012 20325250 553
8. Haryana 9027549 7792344 0
9. Himachal Pradesh 2458878 2352868 6
10. Jammu and Kashmir 3904982 3548312 45
11. Jharkhand 11256003 10202201 123
12. Karnataka 24837243 24045264 4404
13. Kerala 12202869 13085516 6
14. Madhya Pradesh 26195768 23772022 1135
15. Maharashtra 43940543 39542999 1645
16. Manipur 925431 968312 0
17. Meghalaya 850667 868802 0
18. Mizoram 362181 377795 0
19. Nagaland 577793 560422 0
20. Odisha 15946303 14890584 2146
21. Punjab 10502868 9375422 415
22. Rajasthan 23117744 20855740 45
23. Sikkim 200220 188836 0
24. Tamil Nadu 29574300 30155515 5074
25. Telangana 14472054 13840715 2351
26. Tripura 1275694 1230212 0
27. Uttar Pradesh 76809778 64436122 7272
28. Uttarakhand 3923492 3572029 151
29. West Bengal 34592448 32443796 1017
30. Andaman and Nicobar Islands 146524 131464 0
31. Chandigarh 305892 266194 13
32. Dadra and Nagar Haveli 122184 105399 0
33. Daman and Diu 58698 57861 0
34. Delhi 7463731 6005703 829
35. Lakshdweep 25372 24904 0
36. Puducherry 446353 494860 80



The electoral register in Ireland is maintained by the local authorities and all residents that have reached 18 years of age in the state may register at the address in which they are 'ordinarily resident'. Each November a draft register is published after house-to-house enquiries. The register then comes into force the following February after time for appeals and additions. A supplementary register is published which allows voters to make alterations (usually change of address or becoming 18 years of age) prior to voting day. Postal votes are restricted to certain occupations, students and the disabled or elderly resident away from their home. There is also provision for special voters that are usually physically disabled.

While all residents can be registered voting in Ireland depends on citizenship. All residents are entitled to vote in local authority elections. Irish and EU citizens may vote in European parliament elections. Irish citizens and such other persons as are defined by law may vote in elections to Dáil Éireann,(any person entitled to vote for members of Dail Eireann i.e. entitled to vote for the president) for the President and in constitutional referendums.

The electoral register for elections to the six university seats in Seanad Éireann is maintained by the National University of Ireland and University of Dublin. Irish citizens that are graduates of these universities over 18 years of age may register. Voting is by postal vote and residence in the state is not required.[11][12]

New Zealand


Electoral rolls have been used in New Zealand since the late nineteenth century, and some are available in public libraries for genealogical research.[13] Traditionally, the Māori indigenous people have had separate electoral registration; electoral rolls for the Māori were introduced in 1948. In 1975 electors of Māori descent were given the choice of whether to register on the Maori or "general" electoral registers, a choice which allows those who wish for the former to vote for MPs from Māori electorates.[14]

United Kingdom


Within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, the right to register for voting extends to all British, Irish, and Commonwealth citizens. British citizens[a] living overseas may register for up to 15 years after they were last registered at an address in the UK. Before Brexit, EU citizens (who are not Commonwealth citizens or Irish citizens) could vote in European and local elections in the UK, elections to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies (if they live in those areas) and some referendums (based on the rules for the particular referendum); they were not able to vote in British Parliamentary general elections.[16] The minimum age for voting in Scotland, and Wales (for the devolved administration and local government elections only) is 16. In England and Northern Ireland,[17] the minimum voting age is 18. It is possible for someone to register to vote before this birthday, as long as they will reach the voting age before the next revision of the register.[18]

The register is compiled for each polling district, and held by the electoral registration office. In the United Kingdom, this office is located at the local council (district, borough, or unitary level). In Scotland, the offices are sometimes located with councils, but may also be separate. Northern Ireland has a central Electoral Office run by the government.[19][20]

As of 2019, the register is compiled by sending an annual canvas form to every house (a process introduced by Representation of the People Act 1918). A fine of up to £1,000 (level 3 on the standard scale) can be imposed for giving false information. Up to 2001, the revised register was published on 15 February each year, based on a qualifying date of 10 October, and a draft register published on 28 November the previous year. From 2001 as a result of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the annual 'revised' register is published on 1 December, although it is possible to update the register with new names each month between January and September.[21]

The register has two formats. The full version of the register is available for supervised inspection by anyone, by legal right. It is this register that is used for voting, and its supply and use is limited by law. Copies of this register are available to certain groups and individuals, such as credit reference agencies and political parties.[22]

An 'edited' or 'open' version of the register, which omits those people who have chosen to 'opt out', can be purchased by anyone for any purpose. Some companies provide online searchable access to the edited register for a fee.[16][22]

The Information Commissioner's Office, Electoral Commission, Local Government Association and the Association of Electoral Administrators have called for the abolition of the edited register. The organisations believe that the register should only be used for purposes related to elections and referendums, and that the sale of voters' personal details is a practice that may discourage people from registering to vote. The Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee recommended the abolition of the edited register in its report on the Government's proposals for individual electoral registration and other electoral administration provisions. Other organisations, including credit reference agencies, debt collection agencies and direct marketing companies, have argued for the retention of the edited register. However, notwithstanding the above, Mark Harper MP, as Minister for Political and Constitutional Affairs in the Cameron–Clegg coalition, announced during the committee stage of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 on 25 June 2012 that the edited register will be retained.[23]

The full register contains the following information:

  • elector number (one or more characters indicating the polling district, followed by a number)
  • elector's name and address
  • date of birth (if the voter will become eligible to vote during the time period that the register covers)
  • if the elector has requested a postal vote

A 'Marked Register' is a copy of the register that has a mark by the name of each elector who has voted.[24] It serves as the record of who has voted in the election, and it is kept for a year after the election.[25] After an election anyone can inspect the marked register, and certain people can purchase a copy of it.[24] The marked register does not indicate who electors voted for, nor does it contain ballot paper numbers.[26]

It was suggested that the register data could be taken from the data that was to be held on the proposed Citizen Information Project[27] or on the National Identity Register.[28] In January 2005 the Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister began a joint inquiry into reforming the registration system. In January 2010 the Identity Documents Act 2010 repealed the Identity Cards Act 2006 which set up the National Identity Register.

Despite widespread calls for its introduction, the Electoral Administration Act 2006 did not provide for individual elector registration, on the justification that registration levels would fall. However, the Political Parties and Elections Act 2009 introduced a move from a system of household registration to a system of individual electoral registration in Great Britain.[29]

United States


In the United States electoral rolls are commonly referred to as poll books. They have been used since the founding to determine voting eligibility. Today, poll books are a list of persons who are eligible to vote in an election. In the United States, the roll is usually managed by a local entity such as a county or parish. However, the data used for electoral rolls may be provided by statewide sources. While traditional poll books are printed voter rolls, more recently electronic pollbooks have come into favor. Computerized electoral rolls allow for larger numbers of voters to be handled easily and allows for more flexibility in poll locations and the electoral process.

A number of states, and the District of Columbia, have automatic voter registration.[30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38]

See also



  1. ^ Only British citizens can be overseas voters, others who would be eligible to vote within the UK cannot remain registered to vote after moving overseas, including British nationals and Irish and Commonwealth citizens – unless they are also a British citizen[15]


  1. ^ "ICTs in Elections Database | International IDEA". Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  2. ^ Joint Rolls Arrangement between Commonwealth, State and Territories Archived 20 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ SmartRoll: The NSW Electoral Commission's Automatic Enrolment Project at Electoral Commission NSW
  4. ^ a b VEC, The electoral roll
  5. ^ "Electeurs | IBZ Elections". Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  6. ^ "The right to vote in France". Welcome to France. 17 December 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  7. ^ "Application to register online on the electoral lists (Online service)". (in French). Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  8. ^ "Voter Registration – 選民登記".
  9. ^ "Download Voter List 2019,Updated PDF Electoral Roll for loksabha election". 29 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Election Commission of India". Election Commission of India. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Registering to vote". Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  12. ^ "FAQ - Seanad Election 2016 - Trinity College Dublin". Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  13. ^ Electoral Rolls at the Christchurch City Libraries website
  14. ^ History of the vote in New Zealand Archived 29 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine at the Elections New Zealand official website
  15. ^ Representation of the People Act 1985 s1 (1)(b)(ii)
  16. ^ a b "Home – Your Vote Matters". Your Vote Matters. Archived from the original on 8 October 2014. Retrieved 4 June 2009.
  17. ^ "Elections | nidirect". 13 November 2015.
  18. ^ "Register to vote". GOV.UK. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  19. ^ "Register to vote in Scotland". Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  20. ^ "The Electoral Office of Northern Ireland - EONI". Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  22. ^ a b Johnston, Neil (23 January 2023). "Supply and sale of the electoral register" (PDF). House of Commons Library. UK Parliament. SN01020. Retrieved 9 August 2023.
  23. ^ "Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013". 12 August 2021.
  24. ^ a b "Electoral Registration FAQ". Walsall Council. Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  25. ^ "By-election registers go missing". BBC News. 3 February 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  26. ^ "Voting once you are registered". Tewkesbury Borough Council. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  27. ^ "UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE". 13 August 2004. Archived from the original on 13 August 2004.
  28. ^ "Uncorrected Evidence 243".
  29. ^ "The Electoral Commission : Voter registration and the electoral roll".
  30. ^ "Automatic Voter Registration, a Summary | Brennan Center for Justice".
  31. ^ "National Conference of State Legislatures: Automatic Voter Registration". 22 April 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  32. ^ "Oregon Secretary of State: Oregon Motor Voter Act FAQ". Retrieved 31 August 2017.
  33. ^ "Automatic Voter Registration". Brennan Center for Justice. 1 April 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  34. ^ "Shumlin signs into law automatic voter registration". Vermont Business Magazine. 28 April 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  35. ^ Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott (7 March 2016). "Proper Filing Letter" (PDF). Alaska Division of Elections. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  36. ^ "Unofficial Results - November 8, 2016 General Election" (PDF). Alaska Division of Elections. 23 November 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  37. ^ "Cuomo Signs Automatic Voter Registration Measure". Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  38. ^ "Illinois governor signs automatic voter registration law". Washington Post. 28 August 2017. Archived from the original on 1 September 2017. Retrieved 31 August 2017.