South Tyneside CouncilSouth Tyneside Council is calling on people to ensure they are on the Electoral Register to help protect their right to vote.

Household Enquiry Forms are being delivered to more than 71,000 homes across the Borough over the coming weeks to help the Council to identify all those entitled to vote.

Once the forms have been received, local people are asked to check the information printed on their form and respond immediately, whether changes need to be made or not.

Residents can respond online at www.hef-response.co.uk using their 10 digit unique security code and 8 letter password which are printed on the form.

The online process also allows people to add the names of any new occupants as well as remove names of those who no longer live at the address, request a postal application or opt out of the open register.

Residents who do not need to change any details or add names to the register of electors can respond by calling Freephone 0800 025 3176 or by texting their 10 digit security code and 8 letter password to 07507 319 820.

Those who do not have access to a computer, smart phone or tablet can fill in the form, sign it and return it in the pre-paid envelope. Requests for postal applications and changes to the open register can also be made on the paper form.

Under the Individual Electoral Registration system introduced in June 2014, everyone is now responsible for registering to vote themselves.

The new system means that people applying to register must provide their name, address, National Insurance number and date of birth in their application.

The Household Enquiry Form is not a voter registration form, any new occupiers who are not listed need to add their names to the form (either online or by filling in and returning the paper form) and they will also need to register under the new system. People responding to the enquiry form online will be able to give all the details needed to apply to register to vote.  Those who do not register online will be sent an invitation to register form in the post.

Under the current legislation, an £80 fine can be imposed against those who fail to register when required to do so by a given deadline. This would only apply in cases where the elector failed to respond to a series of invitations and reminders to register.

Councillor Alan Kerr, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for democratic renewal, said: “The Council has a duty to maintain an accurate electoral register and it is very important that all adults and young people over the age of 16 living in the Borough are on it so that they can have their say in future elections.

“It is important that people respond to this form to ensure that they are on the new electoral register.

“We would advise people to look out for the Household Enquiry Form arriving and then respond as soon as possible to protect their right to vote in local elections and referendums.”

The Register of Electors will be used from 1 December 2016 to 30 November 2017.

People must respond to the household enquiry form. Anyone not listed on the form can also apply to register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

For further information contact South Tyneside Council’s Electoral Team on (0191) 424 7248 or 7527 or emailelections@southtyneside.gov.uk

More details about electoral registration in South Tyneside is available on the Council’s website atwww.southtyneside.gov.uk/elections Visit www.gov.uk/yourvotematters for further information about the national changes to the electoral registration system.