Postponement of door-to-door canvassing due to Covid-19 and mitigating measures
Decision Maker: Head of Law and Governance
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
To postpone the face-to-face canvass due to the public health situation and to take mitigating measures to ensure that the electoral roll is updated and maintained.
To postpone the physical face-to-face visits of the canvass (c.10,000 properties) with that decision to be reviewed in early 2021, and to take the following mitigating measures:
· investigate whether there are any further data sets that could be used to “return” a property;
· where a property remains outstanding send a further canvass form;
· send an e-mail, where possible, to encourage a response to that form;
· carry out a telephone canvass of outstanding properties where possible;
· plan to carry out the personal visit phase at some point in the early spring (February/early March 2021) if the public health situation allows;
· use the Council’s social media channels to publicise the personal visit/form delivery at that time;
· write to the occupants of each known House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in the City.
Reasons for the decision:
Due to the deteriorating public health situation in Oxford and the announcement that Oxford City will be moving to Tier 2 (High Alert) for coronavirus on Saturday 31 October.
The Electoral Commission and Cabinet Office have said that they are mindful of the contradiction between the law requiring a personal visit and the public health situation in a council area. They have said that, where the personal visit phase is postponed or cancelled the Electoral Registration Officer should set out their decision-making process and what mitigating measures have been put in place.
Alternative options considered:
The option of proceeding with the face-to-face canvass was not preferred for the following reasons:
· many canvassers are in at least one vulnerable group. Some had indicated that they did not want to complete the personal visits for safety reasons.
· canvassers would potentially be knocking on doors of properties with confirmed cases of Coronavirus or symptomatic or asymptomatic residents.
· it is unclear how successful a door-knock stage would be given the public health situation and social distancing measures and as a result the increased reluctance of residents to engage with canvassers on the door step.
Signed off by senior officers:
Anita Bradley, Head of Law and Governance (Electoral Registration Officer).
Decision taken following consultation with the Leader of the Council.
Publication date: 16/11/2020
Date of decision: 29/10/2020