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Torbay Council (18 003 449)

Category : Other Categories > Elections and electoral register

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 12 Jul 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint about the way the Council added him to the electoral register. This is because his injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I have called Mr X, complained that Torbay Council entered his details on the electoral register without him signing or agreeing them.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
  • the injustice is not significant enough to justify our involvement, or
  • we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Mr X and the complaint correspondence provided by the Council. I considered Mr X’s response to a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. The law requires eligible people to be on the Electoral register.

Key facts

  1. The Council wrote to Mr X asking him to join the electoral register. It gave him two options for doing so. Mr X wrote back saying he did not want to vote. The Council wrote to him again saying his application was not successful. Mr X wrote to the Council asking for clarification, and complained about the bullying tone of its letter.
  2. The Council wrote to Mr X saying it was a statutory requirement for him to be on the electoral register, but he did not have to vote. It invited him to complete a form. However, the Council did not give Mr X enough time to respond. So, before he could do so, he received another letter from the Council saying his application to go on the electoral register had been successful.
  3. Mr X complained to the Council again saying it had broken the Data Protection Act by accessing its database to get his personal information. The Council wrote to Mr X explaining that the law allowed it to access data to get information about people who are not registered on the electoral register but who are entitled to be on it.
  4. Mr X remains unhappy with the Council’s actions. He says he has been denied his statutory right to choose the method by which he could register on the electoral register, not once but twice.


  1. We will not investigate this complaint.
  2. I recognise that Mr X did not have the opportunity to make the final decision about how he should be entered onto the electoral register. I also recognise that he believes the Council twice denied him his statutory rights. But I do not think the injustice this caused him is significant enough to justify an investigation by us. I say this because he had to be on the electoral register whether he provided his details or the Council gathered that information from the information it already held. So the end result was the same.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because Mr X has not suffered a significant injustice.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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