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Electoral registers

Electoral registers, which are compiled annually, are a useful source for tracking individuals or families.

Who will appear?

Only people registered to vote will appear:

  • up to 1884, the property requirements for voting excluded most of the population. Even after the 1884 Representation of the People Act, 40% of men still did not have the right to vote. In 1918, all men over the age of 21 could vote
  • from 1918 women over the age of 30 were entitled to vote.  From 1928 onwards 21 became the voting age for both men and women
  • in 1969 the voting age was lowered to 18

How are they arranged?

Electoral registers are grouped into divisions (parts of the county) and have a separate section for each ward/district, which will usually be an individual village, or part of a town.

Within each ward/district, voters are usually listed either alphabetically by surname, or in alphabetical order of street name and then by house name or number.

You will therefore need to know the approximate whereabouts of an individual or family you are looking for, as there is no index.

How can I access them?

Electoral Registers dating from between 1839 to 1922 can be accessed online through Ancestry.

Registers for 1833 to 1922 are available on microfilm, and can be viewed at Dorset History Centre. They include the complete historical divisions of Dorset.

Registers after 1922 should be requested as original documents in our searchroom. Registers for Bournemouth and Christchurch are available at Dorset History Centre from 1974.

Registers held elsewhere

Bournemouth: Bournemouth Library

Christchurch: Hampshire Archives

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