AS reported in The National yesterday, a change has been happening to the way we register to vote in Scotland as we move to a new system of individual electoral registration (IER). However, these important changes will not result in any eligible voters being removed from the registers ahead of the May 7 election and I am pleased to have the opportunity to set out the facts about the move to IER so that your readers can form their own view. Under the previous system of registration, the “head of household” was responsible for registering everyone who lived at an address, but now every individual is responsible for their own voter registration.

To register, individuals need to provide a few more details, including their National Insurance number and date of birth. This helps make the electoral register more secure.

The new system means that, for the first time, people are able to register online which is a big help in encouraging young people – who are traditionally less likely to be registered than older people – to register and ensure they can have their say.

A lot of work has been under way since the new system was introduced after the referendum in September to ensure that all eligible voters can move across to the new system as easily as possible. The first stage in this was checking the details of all individuals on the electoral registers against data held by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Where these matched, the individuals were transferred to the new secure registers without having to do anything. As we reported in November, 86 per cent of all registered voters in Scotland (over 3.6 million of them) were able to be transferred automatically to the new registers in this way.

Any currently registered electors who were not automatically transferred received a letter from their electoral registration officer (ERO) telling them that they need to provide additional information – their National Insurance number and date of birth – in order to be moved over to the new register. Work has been ongoing since October to ensure that as many of these individuals as possible can be supported to transfer to the new system successfully.

It is important to be clear that no-one will come off the electoral register because of this change before the May 7 UK Parliament election, even if they have yet to move to the new electoral registers.

To help ensure that everyone can be clear about whether they are registered to vote or not, EROs have been writing to every household to confirm the details of everyone currently registered to vote at that address.

Letters began to come through letterboxes from mid-February and the last will arrive in the next week or so.

These letters will make it easy for everyone to check whether they are registered to vote for the UK Parliament election. Anyone who is not registered – perhaps because they have changed address – can register ahead of the April 20 deadline by going to