Skip to main content

2nd home voters; a lot of fuss about nothing.

pic from http://www.cornwallcoserg.org.uk/
a once residential street lies empty

Cornwall Council has decided to strike off second home owners from the electoral register. Headlines, praise and criticism include Cornwall second home owners banned from votingTake your vote home with youNo taxation without representation. This is a welcome move, it is an unacceptable situation when ordinary Cornish people who live and work in the community they are part of have as much say as some rich person from London who spends a few weeks there a year. One person one vote, ought to be the principle adhered to, it is fundamentally undemocratic and unfair that people who own second homes get to potentially vote multiple times where they live and where they own a holiday home. That said this is no big deal, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are busy telling everyone that they have made Cornwall more democratic or fairer but this is at best a half truth.

Cornwall Council's actions actually mean very little, existing legislation means that it is illegal to vote in a general election or referendum twice. As to local elections the legislation forbids voting from a non-residential property as the Electoral Commision website explains.


A person’s name may appear on the electoral register only if they reside at an address within the electoral area. Residence is not defined in law, but it has been held by the courts to entail a ‘considerable degree of permanence’. Based on this criteria, it is possible for a person to be registered to vote in two different electoral areas. A person with two homes who spends about the same amount of time in each can be lawfully registered at both addresses.
However, it is unlikely that ownership of a second home that is used only for recreational purposes would meet the residency qualification. Ownership of a second home that a voter pays council tax on but is not resident in does not qualify them for electoral registration in that area. It is for the local Electoral Registration Officer to decide in the light of an individual voter's circumstances whether they may be said to be resident at an address, and therefore eligible for registration. Electoral Registration Officers are required to consider each case on its own merits.
If an elector is registered to vote in two different electoral areas, they are eligible to vote in local elections for the two different local councils. However, it is an offence to vote twice in any one election. Such an offence could result in a fine of up to £5,000.

It's not an exact way of doing it but removing all people claiming a second home discount from the voting register (or not sending poll cards) is within existing legislation and would remove most of the 2nd home voters. That is to say that by using the law which prohibits voting twice in a general election and using the law to prohibit non residents voting the same result could be achieved. So in effect the Conservative- Independent coalition on Cornwall Council could have used these rules to make sure second home voters didn't vote in last years general election. Similarly the last Liberal Democrat administration on the old County Council could have done the same thing. Neither actually did anything when it mattered, why?

This issue is a lot of fuss about something important, but it's a fuss about nothing actually because the rules already are in place to stop people voting twice and in non-residential households. What is actually lacking by both this Tory-Indy administration on Cornwall Council and the last Lib Dem administration is the political will to enforce the rules.  Hopefully the current administration will enforce the rules and prosecute those that break the law.

So is Cornwall banning second home owners from voting? no existing Westminster legislation already does this.

Popular posts from this blog

The 3 actions Penzance Town Centre needs from Cornwall Council

My name is Rob Simmons and I'm a candidate for Penzance East in this Thursdays Cornwall Council election and these are my 3 priorities for our town centre:  1 Action on reducing Parking Fees  2 Action on unfair business rates 3 Action on empty shops and buildings.  I firmly believe that Cornwall Council ought to do more to support Penzance Town Centre and these 3 changes would be a massive leap forward.

1.Action on Parking Fees, Penzance has some of the highest parking fees in Cornwall, we all know that it puts people off coming to town and crucially shoppers from staying for longer periods. With out of town retail parks popping up everywhere and the lure and convenience of the internet our town centre needs help. Cornwall Council must do it's part in supporting the town centre. Penzance needs a Cornwall Councillor that will lobby to change this and find a solution that benefits us and stops CC seeing Penzance as a way of making money. We need to see a major overhaul of parking…

Why I'm voting to stay in the EU and why I think you should too

I haven't interacted much with the European Referendum campaign much. Perhaps it's because I'm too much of a political nerd and would love to see people debating the policies of the European Parliament rather than various name calling and scare mongering but anyway... There's a great deal to not like about the European Union. I'm not a defender of everything it does and the way it conducts itself. But I can say the same about a whole host of institutions and authorities. Which is why this post focuses  on a few of the things I think are important. I think the European Union is fundamentally a good idea. For 2 principle reasons, 1 the formation of the EU and greater European cooperation and understanding has led to the longest period of European peace in recorded history. If the history of Europe tells us anything then we are better off working with each other than we are fighting each other. I know that the EU will continue to exist if the UK votes to leave on th…

Meeting with Premier Inn about proposed Branwell's Mill development

As many of you will have read online and in the local papers. Premier Inn are interested in setting up a hotel in Branwell's Mill in Penzance. Last night members of the Town Council were invited to a presentation by the agents from the hotel chain in St John's Hall. The Town Council rightly has a clear position that it is neutral on this development. Due to Code of Conduct rules and particularly Section 25 of the Localism Act, councillors must not enter debates with a closed mind. Or to put in plain terms the council and councillors can not be seen to have made a decision before the meeting and before they see the facts before them of that meeting. As with any planning application in the parish of Penzance it will be reviewed, debated and voted on by Penzance Town Council  Added to the fact that I've seen a presentation for the developers but not been able to speak to hear other sides of the story. This post is primarily to inform yourselves of what is happening rather th…