Decision details

Decision details

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