Thousands of people in Sheffield could have their personal details bought by companies without realising under changes to electoral registration laws.
Letters have been sent out to householders across the city in the past week informing them the ‘way you register to vote is changing’.
The Government’s new individual electoral registration legislation means voters who did not opt out of Sheffield Council’s open register last year will have their details included.
The council keeps two electoral registers of voters and is legally obliged to sell on the names and addresses of people on the open register to any person, company or organisation.
Angry resident Jim Carter said: “What right have these people got to sell what essentially isn’t theirs without the permission of the owners, and who is getting the money?”
The Local Government Association has warned the new law could create an increase in junk mail with hundreds of requests for information are made to councils every year from organisations such as marketing firms or estate agents.
The main electoral register, which lists the names and addresses of everyone registered to vote, is used for calling people for jury applications or checking credit bids, but is not for sale but electors can choose to opt out of the open register.
Sheffield Council chief executive John Mothersole, said the council did not promote the sale of the register but had ‘no choice’ about people being included on it.
He said: “The Government has recently made major changes to the way people register their vote.
“Under the Government’s new Individual Electoral Registration legislation, if electors did not opt out last year, they will be included on the open register and this will continue until they tell us they wish to change it.
“The council has had no choice about this and we’ve acted no differently to every other authority in England and Wales.
n To opt out of the open register visitwww.sheffield.gov.uk/vote