Your vote counts – don’t lose it

Your vote counts – don’t lose it
10 August 2020

People in Orkney are being encouraged to check their voter registration details are up to date.

Residents are asked to complete and return an annual form sent by the local Electoral Registration Office – to ensure they retain the right to vote in future elections.

With Scottish Parliament elections to be held in May 2021 – and the count for the North Isles by-election taking place on 1 October - this gives people the opportunity to make sure they can take part.

The Electoral Registration Office will be getting in touch with every household to check that the electoral register is up to date, and to identify any residents who should be registered but are currently missing.

Dennis Stevenson, Electoral Registration Officer for the Orkney Islands area, said: “I would ask folk to keep an eye out for messages from us, so we can make sure we have the correct details on the electoral register for every address in the county – and that you can to vote in forthcoming elections.

“People who have moved recently are particularly encouraged to look out for the voter registration messages from us and check the details.

“Recent changes to the voting franchise mean that all nationalities are now able to vote in Scottish Parliament and Council elections. So this will be an important opportunity for new voters to get on to the electoral register before next year’s Scottish Parliament election and the forthcoming Council by-election for the North Isles ward.”

Andy O’Neill, Head of Electoral Commission in Scotland, said: “It doesn’t matter where you were born. If you are aged 16 and over, you are able to vote in elections in Scotland (other than for the UK Parliament) but only if you register to vote first.

“Making sure you provide the necessary information to your electoral registration office when it is needed will ensure the process runs smoothly.”
If you’re not currently registered, the easiest way is to do this is online at

Research by the Electoral Commission indicates that recent home movers are far less likely to be registered than those who have lived at the same address for a long period of time. Across the UK, 92% of people who have been at their property for more than sixteen years will be registered, compared to 36% of people who have lived at an address for less than a year.

Helpful information about registering to vote can be found at

Advice can also be provided by the local registration team at the Electoral Registration Office at 8 Broad Street, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NX. Phone 01856876222 or send an email to

Further information

A Scottish Parliament election is scheduled for May 2021.

The Representation of the People Act 1983 places a duty on Electoral Registration Officers to maintain the electoral register for their area and to conduct an annual canvass of all residential properties.

The electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in elections. The register is used for electoral purposes, such as making sure only eligible people can vote. It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law, such as detecting crime (e.g. fraud), calling people for jury service or checking credit applications.

The open register is an extract of the electoral register but is not used for elections. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. For example, it is used by businesses and charities to confirm name and address details. Your name and address will be included in the open register unless you ask for them to be removed. Removing your details from the open register does not affect your right to vote.

To be eligible to register to vote a person must be:

  • Aged 14 or over (a person may register to vote at 14, but may not vote until they are 16 for Scottish Parliament and council elections, and aged 18 for UK Parliament elections).
  • A British, Irish, EU or other foreign citizen who has leave to enter and remain in the UK or does not require such leave.

Full details on who can vote in elections in Scotland can be found at

Full details of the Electoral Commission’s research on the electoral registers at

School Place, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1NY

Telephone: 01856 873535

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Orkney Islands Council: BOREAS DOMUS MARE AMICUS