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You can add your name to the register of electors at any time throughout the year under rolling registration regulations.
If you do not register then you cannot exercise your democratic right to vote in any election.
It is also used by local authorities for their duties relating to security, law enforcement and crime prevention, for example checking entitlement to council tax discount or housing benefit.
A test data matching exercise of locally registered electors with national data held by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will then take place in January 2020.
The courts use the register to summon people for jury service.
It can be sold to government departments to help in their duties such as the prevention or detection of crime.
It replaces the previous electoral arrangements - where one person in each household registered everyone to vote - with the requirement to register individually.
People living in England, Scotland and Wales will also be able to register online for the first time.
Changes to the way in which the annual canvass of electors is undertaken will take place in 2020.