Electoral Registers: Glossary

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This is a backup of the West Yorkshire Archive Service's "Off the Record" wiki from 2015. The live went offline in 2016 and remains unavailable.

Here is a list of terms commonly used in the compilation and organisation of electoral registers:


  • Absent voters: people serving in armed forces during WWI and WWII are indicated by an 'A' in the County electoral registers. Separate absent voters registers were compiled following each World War, see here for more information


  • Borough voters: people registered to vote in Borough Divisions (in West Yorkshire these were Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds and Wakefield). Pre 1884 there were different qualifications for borough and county voters, see Electoral Registers: who could vote and when for more information. See here for an explanation of the difference between Borough and County electoral registers.


  • Constituency/Division: an electoral division or constituency is a distinct territorial subdivision that has elections for one or more seats to elect representatives to either local authorities or the UK government. Usually only voters who live within the geographical boundary of an electoral division (constituents) are eligible to vote in an election held there. Following the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 the Boundary Commission must review the parliamentary constituencies within England every 5 years


  • County voters: people registered to vote in County Divisions (West Yorkshire and some surrounding areas were formerly part of the West Riding county). The electoral registers held at WYAS: Wakefield are County registers that include West Riding County voters but exclude Borough voters (see above). Pre 1884 there were different qualifications for borough and county voters


  • Electors: the name given to people eligible to vote and registered on the electoral register


  • Franchise: the right to vote


  • In Force Date: the period of time each electoral register was in force; usually this follows consecutively from one year to another and lasts for 12 months e.g. Feb 1995-Feb 1996.


  • Local election: where people registered on the electoral roll vote to elect councillors to represent their county, unitary authority, borough, district, city, town or parish council. Pre the 1918 Representation of the People Act there were different qualifications for people to be able to vote in local county/borough and parliamentary elections


  • Parliamentary election: where people registered on the electoral roll vote to elect their local MP to represent their constituency in the UK government. Pre the 1918 Representation of the People Act there were different qualifications for people to be able to vote in local and parliamentary elections


  • Poll Books: these were produced to account for votes cast in parliamentary elections prior to the introduction of electoral registers under the Representation of the People Act 1832. Poll Books only include the names of people who actually voted; they are not lists of everyone who was eligible to vote. They usually gives details of a person's residence and occupation and may show who they voted for


  • Polling District: the wards each constituency is split up into


  • Qualification Date: the date at which an eligible person must be resident at a property in order to be included in electoral roll. The qualification date is usually a few months before the publication of an electoral register, so in the case of a register where the In Force date might be Feb 1995-Feb 1996 the qualification date would have been Oct 1994.


  • Register of electors: lists of people entitled and registered to vote at each address in a constituency/division which is then broken down into polling districts


  • Suffrage: the right to vote gained through the democratic process. For more information on when different people were enfranchised see Electoral Registers: who could vote and when. Universal suffrage is where the right to vote is not restricted by sex, race, social status, or wealth