Jisc has developed a student voter registration service designed to increase the number of students on the electoral roll.
It aims to do this by making the registration process as simple and quick as possible though leveraging existing services that Jisc runs on behalf of the higher education sector.
The main part of the service consists of a desktop and mobile-friendly web application. Students will, as a part of their enrolment process within their university, be securely and transparently directed to the service, where they will be greeted with a voter registration form.
On the form, as many of the fields as possible will be pre-populated using details already gathered by the university, such as the student’s name and date of birth. The student simply needs to fill out any missing information (eg National Insurance number) and submit the form.
This information will be transported using the UK Access Management Federation - a Jisc shared service for the sector designed to enable secure authentication of users and secure interchange of information about those users across organisations.
This part of the service will be hosted on public cloud infrastructure to give the reliability, flexibility and automated capacity management that such an important national service requires.
All information about users of the service will be stored in a registrations database held in a Jisc secure data centre and will be held for as short a time as possible (no longer than 28 days). A secure direct virtual private network (VPN) connection between the public cloud and Jisc's secure data will be in place. This means that, after a student submits their information to the web application, all transmission of this information is encrypted and never traverses the public internet. Encryption of the data at rest in the database provides an additional layer of security.
The second part of the service is a web application for electoral registration officers (EROs) at each local authority. This will securely authenticate them as users and allow the download of student registration information in batch form for their locality, at which point they will process the registration as normal.
Benefits for universities and councils
Universities benefit from the use of this service in several ways. Principally, Jisc is able to provide anonymised statistics detailing the number of students who started the registration process against those who actually submitted a registration. Additionally, we can report in more detail on completion percentage, eg, which fields the user entered compared to which were pre-populated, helping demonstrate the effectiveness of the release of identity attributes, and highlighting any fields the student is having difficulty filling in.
EROs benefit because it reduces their workload. For example, the address information coming from authoritative student record systems will be checked (by the student) and attached to a Unique Property Reference Number (UPRN) by our system, thus removing the need for EROs to carry out further manual address validation.
The new service is going live on 1 April 2019. Universities that want to find out more should contact their Jisc account manager.