The UK government intends to replace household electoral registration with individual electoral registration (IER). This article assesses the likely effects of the reform using an innovative methodology. A thematic analysis of extensive qualitative interviews with local election officials, conceived as ‘street-level bureaucrats’ responsible for implementing elections, was undertaken. Their local knowledge provides evidence that IER might improve the security of the registration process. However, it is likely to lead to a considerable decline in levels of electoral registration which might be highest amongst the young, elderly and minority populations; is a more resource-intensive method of compiling the electoral register; will pose new issues with data and technology for election officials; and, is likely to have a number of further ‘spill-over’ effects on other aspects of election administration, such as the cutting of other services. The article encourages further research using the local knowledge of street-level bureaucrats to examine the ‘back-office’ effects of election administration reforms since they may further our understanding of the complexities and unintended consequences of institutional reforms which might be overlooked in quantitative studies.