Can I search for people in the 2014 electoral roll free? 

Is there any such thing as a free electoral roll search online in the UK?

These questions are often asked by people tracing their family tree as they think finding people with one of their surnames on the electoral roll UK will be a great way to make links with living relatives, however distant. Many people assume that to search the electoral roll free will be a simple matter of doing a quick internet search. In fact, if you put the search term "search electoral roll free" into google, you come up with only four sites. One of them is this page but the others are not offering a free electroral roll search.

The very quick answer is "No" – there is not such a thing as a free electoral roll and it is not possible to search the 2014 electoral roll free but it is getting cheaper – to find out more and where to go to find it, read on. 

This could save you a lot of time and you can choose to search the electoral roll online for UK on a site that is more useful for family history, rather than one of the commercial sites set up for tracing people for debt collection etc. Click for information on the 2007 electoral roll.

So, even in its most complete form, the electoral roll is never 100% inclusive of all the people who could be on it.

What is the 2014 electoral roll? 

The 2014 electoral roll UK was put together from local electoral registers held by all the UK local authorities. It includes all adults in the country who are registered to vote in either local elections or general elections but a few people get missed off every year. People who move around a lot, students, the homeless can be left off my mistake, or because they don’t get round to giving their details to the local authority.

Why do some people opt out of the electoral roll? 

This all goes back to 2002. 

Before that, the electoral roll was compiled and was fairly complete, including virtually all potential voters in the UK. However, as the internet had advanced and debt collection had become big business, there was a requirement for databases to enable companies to search for living people. Family historians had also realised what a great resource the electoral roll was and, at that time, it would possible to buy the electoral roll on disc, and to search online using 192.com for free. electoral roll

People became a bit wary of the impact of this on their personal life and privacy and, in 2002, if became possible to ‘opt out’ of the electoral roll that was released for general publication. The companies wanting the electoral roll now had to pay more for it but it contained fewer people. 

The issue of local authorities selling the electoral roll was highlighted in a Watchdog program in 2007 – a newspaper article in the Wakefield Express in January 2008 reported that the Wakefield authority were one of the few that gave information about what went on to the program makers. Apparently, the council had sold its edited version of the 2006 electoral roll to five mailing companies in 2006 to 2007, charging £5 for each 1000 elector’s names on paper and £1.50 for every 1000 voters names supplied electronically. 

Not surprisingly, companies began to make a charge for people wanting to search for living relatives to offset this cost to them. 

Today, the opt out of the latest electoral roll is quite high – just under 35% of people opted out of the 2007 electoral roll and something like 42% exercising the option of removing themselves from the 2008 electoral roll. 

If you opt out, you are still on the local authority electoral register, but this is confidential and an individual person can only access their own record to check its accuracy. The details on the register for someone who has opted out should not be released to anyone else. 

Where can I check my own entry into the UK electoral register? 

You need to go to the local electoral registration office for your area, which is usually in the offices of your local council. Most local councils have very good websites and you can usually find where to go by looking at that. If not, give them a ring. In Scotland, the records are held by the Valuation Joint Board and in Northern Ireland at EONI, the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland (http://www.eoni.org.uk ). You can find out how to register to vote at www.aboutmyvote.co.uk, where you can download voter registration forms and postal vote application forms. 

 

What information can you search online from the electoral roll records? 

Companies who put together the 2014 database are understandably not too happy at the high opt out rates (currently 39.7%) so offer searches in combination with other electoral roll years, right back to 2002. So, if the person you are looking for opted out this year, there is a chance they will appear in the online company registers because they forgot, or chose not to opt out last year or the year before. 

Of course, the more people opt out, the less useful the registers will be as people move, emigrate, die, change name etc, so the information will become more inaccurate as time goes on. 

To counteract the effect of this the online information companies are trying to add records from other sources. Some are taking advantage of the birth records that are now more freely available and are using complex computer programs to match people’s ages, making it possible to do searches within a particular age range – useful if you are looking for someone with a very common name.

It's a good idea before using any of these sites to try your names in Google or another search engine. You never know what you will find:

Where can I search the 2014 electoral roll? 

Below is a summary of some of the main companies that will offer the electoral roll for this year – it is not an exhaustive list – if you find some others offering a good deal, let us know and we can add them on.

We should say at this point that Family Tree Folk are not associated with any of the companies mentioned here – its just useful information for people interested in our site and in the range of gifts, cards , magnifiers and archival products we provide. 

Tracesmart   

Tracesmart is one of the main providers of the online electoral roll – it comes up as one of the first few hits in most of the search engines when you do a search for “2014 electoral roll”. 

Tracesmart says it uses the publishable electoral roll and other sources and currently has about 35 million people in its searchable records – approximately 58% of the population of the UK. That’s quite high when you think that about 20% of the overall population is under 18 and therefore not eligible to vote. It also contains the ages of 32 million people and the company press release boasts that anyone searching on their site can find 9 in every 10 people they look for. 

At the moment, as well as offering an advanced business search, Tracesmart offers a search for private users. 

 

  • From just £3.49 per month. 

  

192.com  

This was one of the first companies to offer the electoral roll online and has been going several years now. It became the first directory to put together its electoral register data with age information obtained from birth data and now offers the opportunity to do age-limited searches. 

The company says that this will make it easier to identify the person you are looking for, even if they move to different addresses, as their name and age stay the same. 

You can search for free, but names come up with no further information. If you want more you have to use up a credit and these are available in various packages: 

 

  • 6 credits £9.95 (£1.66 each) + VAT 
  • 100 credits £34.95 (35p each) + VAT 
  • 300 credits £84.95 (28p each) + VAT 
  • 600 credits £149.95 (25p each) + VAT 

 

Credits are valid for 6 months from date of purchase. 

You can also add the Extended Archive Membership for £4.95 + VAT per month. This is valid for one year and is used to search an extended database of 200 million records, outside of the electoral roll for 2013. 

192.com seems to be a generally expensive option but, remember that these prices include the new 2014 electoral roll data.

The people finder option at 192.com allows you to search the 2014 electoral roll and the other electoral registers back to 2002. It also includes data from company and director reports, the birth, marriage and death registers and directory inquiries. 

For family history, it is also interesting that 192.com have put up the birth, marriage and death indexes (now also on Ancestry.co.uk and the other ancestry websites, and www.findmypast.com. It also has the 1861 census – this and the other census are already on ancestry, and findmypast is planning to include them soon. 

A nice feature with 192.com is the links to 192.com maps, which you can use to map an address. 

Findmypast  

Once this was not an option for someone doing family history, or anyone for that matter. The genealogy site www.findmypast.com – which used to be called 1837online.com has launched its own searchable electoral roll. 

The Living Relatives section on findmypast now provides access to the current electoral roll; telephone data updated monthly and historical director information. 

As the site quite correctly says, it is probably the cheapest way of searching the electoral roll if you want the latest one and you only want to do a few searches. 

Each name search costs 10 units, and you can buy 60 units for £6.95 and 280 units for £24.95. 

With this last plan, each credit costs less than 10 pence so a single electoral roll search would be 89 pence. And you don’t have to use all your credits on the electoral roll – findmypast has lots of other records more useful to family history, way beyond what 192.com has – including emigration records, ships records etc.

You can also buy larger packages that last a year and give you full access to all the records with unlimited downloads of data.

  

So, search the electoral roll free is not possible, but it is possible to spend your money wisely and get good value searches to get the electoral roll information you need.

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