MoneyMagpie

Jul 07

Why NOT being registered to vote could damage your credit rating

Are you on the electoral roll? It might sound like nothing much but not being registered to vote could WEAKEN YOUR CREDIT RATING. Seriously, we’re not making it up, it really could. Read on to find out why and what you can do about it.

 

Why would it affect my credit rating?

Fair score on credit report

On the face of it, having your credit rating affected just because you’ve decided not to vote doesn’t seem very fair. But there is actually a valid reason behind it, and it’s all to do with being on the electoral register.

The electoral register is basically a list of the names and addresses of everyone in the country who is allowed to vote in UK elections. Paying taxes or being British isn’t enough to get you on the list- you need to register.

The electoral register is one of the things that credit reference agencies check to make sure that you are who you say you are, and that nothing underhand is going on (i.e. fraud). Appearing on the list reassures them of your existence, so if you’re not on the list questions will be raised and your credit rating could be affected in the process.

Being on the electoral register doesn’t mean you then have to vote. Not voting doesn’t affect your credit rating – but not being registered to vote does.

For more information on everything to do with voting and the electoral system, take a look at The Electoral Commission website.

 

How do I get on the electoral register?

Woman using laptop

Registering isn’t a tricky process. If you want to do it now, just go onto a website called About My Vote and they will guide you through the process. This will mean filling out an online form which you will then need to print off, personally sign (very important) and then send to your local electoral registration office. If you don’t know where your local office is don’t worry, as About My Vote has that covered as well. They just ask you to type your postcode in and they will find all the contact details for you.

Alternatively you can wait until your local council sends you an electoral registration form. These forms should arrive at your home between August and November every year, and even if you’re already registered you’ll still need to fill in certain details and send them back.

If you’re local council are generous sorts they might let you renew your registration details over the phone. The forms they send you should contain details of this, but if you’re not sure then give them a call.

 

How can I check my credit rating?

Credit score app

The strength of your credit rating will be based on the information contained within your credit report, and whenever you apply for loans, a mortgage or credit cards, it’s this report which lenders check.

There are lots of reasons why you should keep an eye on your credit report, a key one being that it could contain inaccuracies which are stopping you from being lent money.

To receive your credit score free, forever, then sign up to Experian. They also offer a 30 day free trial to access your full credit report. Along with your report you’ll also receive advice on how to improve your credit rating, fraud alerts, your credit rating score and loads more extra goodies. Once the 30 days is up you’re under no obligation to keep going, but you absolutely must cancel your subscription to avoid being charged.

 

Who is allowed to vote?

weird ways for students to make money

In order to vote you HAVE to be on the electoral register. If you have registered, and all the following apply, then you’re good to go:

  • You’re 18 or over.
  • You’re either a British, Commonwealth, Irish Republic or European Union citizen who is living in the UK.
  • You’re registered to vote as either a Crown Servant or a service voter.

About My Vote has a detailed guide on who can vote, so it’s well worth taking a look if you’re not completely sure.

Whilst you have to be 18 to actually vote, you can register to vote from 16 onwards.

 

The different ways you can vote

Polling Station

Polling Station entrance

Going to a polling station to personally cast your vote is the most popular way of doing it. A few days prior to the election you’ll get sent a poll card which will explain where your local polling station is. It’ll usually be based somewhere like your town hall or a nearby school, and the opening hours are 7am-10pm.

It’s a simple enough process but if you’d like a heads up on what to expect then take a look at About My Vote. Not only do they offer a 5 step guide on what you can expect to happen at your polling station, their website also features an animated virtual “walkthrough” of the whole experience. A bit strange, but we like it!

 

Postal Vote

Woman putting white card in envelope

If you’re not that keen on going to a polling station then doing it by postal vote might be a better option.

Again, About My Vote is the website to visit as they make the process very simple. Just fill in their online form, print it off, sign it and then send to your local electoral registration office. Job done.

If you do decide to vote by post make sure you leave enough time for it to reach its destination.

Important! The postal vote rules are slightly different in Northern Ireland so if they apply to you click on the Ireland Vote link at the bottom of the page.

 

Voting by Proxy

Vote by proxy graphic

In some cases you will be allowed to send another person to place your vote for you. This is known as voting by proxy, and is a welcome relief for people who might be disabled, living abroad or tied up with work commitments.

You have to have a valid reason to want to vote this way- a bad hangover won’t cut it!

If you think this is the only way you’ll be able to vote then make sure you apply for a proxy vote at least 6 days prior to the election. You obviously can’t foresee any emergencies which might happen in the days leading up to the election, and if this happens you can apply for an emergency proxy vote.

For more information on voting by proxy visit About My Vote.

 

Useful Links

  • If you suffer from any kind of disability and are worried that it will affect your a ability to vote, put your mind at rest by reading this information from Gov.uk
  • About My Vote
  • Ireland Vote

 

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