Privacy notice

How we collect and use your information

Website visitors

This privacy notice tells you what to expect when the Electoral Commission collects personal information about visitors to our websites.

When someone visits we collect standard internet log information which shows how visitors are using the site. We do this to monitor the number of visitors to the various parts of the site, and to analyse the behaviour of our visitors in order to help us to provide you with a better user experience. We collect this information in a way that does not identify anyone. We do not make any attempt to find out the identities of those visiting any of our websites. We will not associate any data gathered from this site with any personally identifying information from any source. If we do want to collect personally identifiable information through our website, we will be up front about this and get your consent. We will make it clear when we collect personal information and will explain what we intend to do with it.

Use of cookies by the Electoral Commission

Cookies are small text files that are placed on your computer by websites that you visit. They are widely used in order to make websites work, or work more efficiently, as well as to provide information to the owners of the site. Cookies will often record information such as a user's preferences for options on a site, or on a transactional site a cookie will be used to identify a logged-in user and preserve the integrity of the data they are entering. Cookies are also used to identify website visitors for the purposes of analysing site usage.

Some cookies are placed on your computer by the website you are visiting but others are placed by third parties, often to track website usage. When you visit an Electoral Commission website, a small number of third party cookies may be placed on your computer to help analyse usage or to monitor the success of our campaigns. We provide information about these below and show you how to get further information about them.

IP addresses are used to initially identify the location of users. This information is used to tailor the website to improve the user experience and present locally relevant information (such as upcoming elections in a particular area). The information is also used to analyse and improve the services offered on the website. Where information is provided based on the user's IP address, this forms a 'best guess' of the user's location. There are several reasons why a user's IP address may not necessarily equate to their computer's physical location (such as if the computer's internet access is based upon a server located elsewhere). We have done everything we can to ensure the accuracy of the location-specific information based upon IP addresses, and have ensured that crucial information requires the user to enter their postcode to confirm their location. At any time the user can change the location that has been set by their IP address by entering their postcode on the website (in the 'Your local area' section).

A facility is provided on this website for users to enter their postcode. This facility is provided for the convenience of the user, allowing the website to tailor information to their local area (for instance, upcoming elections in a particular area). The postcode entered by the user is retained by the site as a 'cookie', meaning that different sections of the site will remain tailored to the user's locality as they move through the site. The postcode is only used by the site for this purpose and to analyse and improve the services offered on the website. Postcodes are not used to contact or send mail to users or in any other off-line circumstance.

The postcode facility provides information by linking individual postcodes to electoral boundaries (such as local authorities and parliamentary constituencies). The data which drives this functionality is provided by Ordnance Survey (for Great Britain data) and Ordnance Survey Northern Ireland. While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the data, The Electoral Commission is not responsible for this data and there may be instances where it is less than 100% accurate. OS and OSNI provide updated data-sets on a regular basis and these are used to update the website's database on a roughly annual basis, thereby ensuring that new postcodes or changes to boundaries are taken into account.

Online form-filling functionality

This website includes an online form-filling functionality for applications to register to vote and for applications for postal voting. This functionality is provided for the convenience of the user and to minimise the effort required to complete these applications. Please note that the application process is not finished until the user has completed the online process, printed their form, signed it by hand, and sent it back to their local electoral registration office. The appropriate address details are provided during the form-filling process based upon the postcode entered by the user. You can also find contact details for your electoral registration office just by entering your postcode in the "Your local area" section of the site.

Please note that it is not possible to "submit" applications online since a hand-written signature is required for voting security reasons, and since applications must be returned to local electoral registration offices and not to a central point of contact. Electoral registration is by law managed by local electoral registration offices - The Electoral Commission itself does not and cannot process the applications, so you should not send your application to us.

Since applications are not submitted online, the website does not retain personal information entered by the user beyond the duration of time spent completing the form-filling process. To ensure the security of the application details they are not carried across from one form-filling process to another - such as from the electoral registration process to the postal vote application process. The only exception to this is the user's postcode (as entered by them) which the site requires to provide them with location-specific information (such as the details of their local electoral registration office).

When completing the form-filling processes on the website, users will be forced to connect to the server using HTTPS - a secure server connection.  This will ensure that personal data that is entered by users will be protected when transferred to and from the server.

Following an application via the form-filling process, the only information retained by the site is: the user's postcode (as entered by them); the date and time of the application; the applicant's local electoral registration office (as determined by their postcode); and the user's client IP address. Each application is also allocated a random unique reference number. This information is stored securely and can only be accessed by the website's administrators. This information will generally only be accessed in specific circumstances such as a request from the Police. The information will not be used to contact users without their prior consent.

Website security testing

As part of the development of the website an application security assessment was conducted. This was conducted using the software WebInspect from HP Software (formerly SPI Dynamics). WebInspect is an industry standard security and penetration testing tool for web applications.  Find out more about the software WebInspect.

The tables below explain the cookies we use and why:


Set by




Web site

Deleted when user leaves site

Identifies user for duration of visit to site


Web site

16 months

Used to determine the language for the visitor


Web site

12 months

Ensures that user does not repeatedly see survey pop ups on return visits to site

PopupVisitData_[survey group]

Web site

Deleted when user leaves site

Ensures that user does not repeatedly see survey pop ups during a site visit


Google Analytics

Never expires

Tracks number of visits, the time of the first visit, the previous visit, and the current visit


Google Analytics

Deleted when user leaves site (or after 30 minutes of inactivity)

Tracks when a visit starts. With _utmc determines length of visit


Google Analytics

Deleted when user leaves site (or after 30 minutes of inactivity)

Tracks when a visit ends


Google Analytics

6 months

Tracks where a user came from (e.g. search engine, another site)



10 years

Identifies unique users and duration of visit



10 years






13 months to 2 years

Generally contains a randomly generated number used to track marketing campaigns





2 years

Generally contains a randomly generated number used to track marketing campaigns



Adconion Media Group


30 days to 1 year

Generally contains a randomly generated number used to track marketing campaigns



90 days

Generally contains a randomly generated number used to track marketing campaigns




30 days

Recent event and behavioral data histories, as well as frequency capping data

Read more:




1 year

Unique ID for the user

Read more:


Most web browsers allow some control of most cookies through the browser settings. To find out more about cookies, including how to see what cookies have been set and how to manage and delete them, visit

To opt out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites visit

If you continue to access the Commission's websites without changing these settings, we will consider that you consent to the use of cookies as set out above. Please be aware that restricting cookies may impact on the functionality of the Electoral Commission's websites. 

Other personal information

The Electoral Commission also collects personal data by means of our day-to-day activities and contact with people who access our services. We have to hold the details of the people who have requested a service in order to provide it. However, we only use these details to provide the service the person has requested. 

See our policy on collecting and holding personal information (PDF)

Changes to this privacy notice

We keep our privacy notice under regular review. This privacy notice was last updated April 2012.

How to contact us

Queries about how the Commission collects and handles personal information may be submitted to us by mail or email. Please send requests to:

Joanne Crofton-Diggins

The Electoral Commission

3 Bunhill Row

London EC1Y 8YZ

General information

  • This site has security measures in place to protect against the loss, misuse and alteration of material under our control. However, we accept no responsibility for alteration, manipulation or interpretation of its data once placed on the World Wide Web
  • Our information on the World Wide Web is subject to change without notice
  • Where we provide links to sites, we do not by doing so endorse any information or opinions appearing in them
  • We accept no liability over the availability of linked pages
  • This website is governed by UK law.

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