Public Services > Central Government

Voter registration deadline passes without major online service disruptions

Neil Merrett Published 23 May 2017

‘Register to vote’ service records busiest day for online applications ahead of General Election after GDS vow to learn user demand lessons from 2016 disruption


612,543 people r egistered to vote online on Monday (May 22) without disruption ahead of the application deadline closing at midnight, marking the busiest day for the service in the run up to the current General Election.

After technical issues resulted in last minute service disruption before the 2016 EU referendum, the ‘register to vote’ service has managed to cope with late demand this year, according to Government Digital Service (GDS) performance figures.

During the last two days before the deadline to register, a total of 819,604 applications were received through the online service, which has posted 100% uptime since the June 8 election was announced last month.

A total of 9,855 voters submitted paper registration forms on the final day, also the highest daily amount since the General Election was announced.

Since April 23, the majority of applications have come from individuals aged 34 or under, with 453,000 people in this age bracket registering yesterday (May 22) alone.

The government said last month that it had acted on concerns about meeting demand for online voter registration for the 2016 EU referendum vote after a temporary failure in its system on June 7 last year saw the application deadline being extended for an additional 48 hours.

The Cabinet Office maintained that the system was not brought down at the time by a cyber attack or outside influence, but by increased demand ahead of the referendum registration deadline.

The decision to briefly extend the voting deadline was backed at the time by the Electoral Commission, which this year urged voters to sign up either online or through the traditional paper process sooner, rather than later.

“With the registration deadline in sight, the commission is advising everyone who has not yet registered to do so as soon as possible to ensure that they can have their say on 8 June,” said the regulatory body.

According to an official Electoral Commission report on referendum applications, the voter registration website was hampered by 38% of the applications received during the campaign being duplicates.

"The Electoral Commission noted that in 26 local authority areas, more than half of the applications received in that period were duplicates," said the report.

Misinformation spread via social media claiming that voters had to re-register their details for the referendum further complicated the issue, according to the committee's findings.

In a separate report on lessons learnt from the EU referendum campaign, the Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) said that since launching on June 10 2014, the collapse of the voter registration technology before the referendum was seen as the most significant example of software failure for the service.

"The collapse of the website, managed by the Cabinet Office and the Government Digital Service (GDS), was blamed on 'unprecedented demand' for the service, with 515,256 online applications to register to vote recorded on June 7," noted the findings.

"The previous record for the largest number of online applications received in a day was 469,047 on April 20, 2015."

Related articles:

Government applies "lessons learned" from online voter registration crash

Referendum voter registration deadline extended after online failure

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