Voters rolls - or electoral registers - record the names of persons at particular addresses who are entitled to vote. This guide provides information about the Library's electoral registers and how they may be used.
About our electoral registers
The Library holds current and historic electoral registers, and you can find out more about our holdings on our family history pages.
Since 2003, two versions of the electoral register have been produced, the full version and the edited version (also known as the 'open register'). The Library holds copies of the full electoral register, we do not hold copies of the edited version. We receive the full electoral register for Scotland in print and electronic format. For technical reasons we only provide access to the printed format, under supervision - see using our registers.
Legislation about electoral registers
Consultation of electoral registers and use of information from them is strictly controlled by legislation. Failure to observe regulations relating to electoral registers may be a criminal offence. Relevant legislation includes the following:
- Representation of the People (Scotland) Regulations 2001 (as amended, including by the Representation of the People (Scotland) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 and 2006), in particular Regulation 96
- Representation of the People Act 1983
- Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001
- Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- Data Protection Act 2018
This guide has been produced based on this legislative framework, however, information provided by the National Library of Scotland is not intended as, and should not be construed as, legal advice. If you need legal advice please consult a legal professional.
Using our electoral registers
You can consult the printed electoral registers in person, in the Library, or you can request information from certain registers from Library staff.
Different restrictions apply to the use of registers first published within the last ten years than to those which are more than ten years old.
Inspecting the registers in the Library
You can consult the printed registers yourself, subject to the following conditions:
- Consultation must be in the Library, under supervision by Library staff.
- No part of the registers and no information from the registers can be copied or reproduced, except by means of hand-written notes. Registers may not be photographed or photocopied.
- Use of personal data in the registers must comply with data protection legislation. For more information, see our guide to using personal data from our collections.
Registers that are more than ten years old
You can also consult registers that were first published more than ten years ago yourself, or you can request that information from these older registers is provided by Library staff, subject to the following conditions:
- Information from the registers must only be obtained for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes.
- Information obtained must not be processed for the purposes of measures or decisions with respect to particular individuals.
- Information obtained must not be processed in such a way that substantial damage or substantial distress is likely to be caused to any individual.
- Use of personal in the registers must comply with data protection legislation. For more information, see our guide to using personal data from our collections.
Police use of our electoral registers
If you work for the police and you wish to consult or obtain information from registers held by the Library, you are subject to the same restrictions as other individuals, as detailed in using our electoral registers.
Regulations 101 and 108 of the Representation of the People (Scotland) Regulations 2001 (as amended) provide for the supply of electoral registers to police forces for the purposes of the prevention and detection of crime and the enforcement of the criminal law.
However, these regulations relate to the supply to the police of the registers by a registration officer, not to the use by the police of electoral registers held by the Library. Police can seek copies of the registers by contacting the relevant electoral registration office.
If you require further information about electoral administration, you can visit the Electoral Commission website, in running electoral registration page.
If you have an enquiry about use of the Library's electoral registers, you can contact our Data Protection Officer, Fred Saunderson. To contact him:
Data Protection Officer
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Tel: +44(0)131 623 3700