The rights group Unlock Democracy has strongly criticised the UK government's proposals to remove the legal duty for people to register to vote.
Peter Facey, director of the campaigning NGO, commented: “Unlock Democracy believes that individual voter registration is essential to improving the security of our elections and actively campaigned for it. It is an important mechanism to prevent fraud and ensure that the person who casts the vote in an election, is the person on the electoral register. But we have always recognised that its introduction, at least in the short term, would require Electoral Registration Officers to be more pro-active, not less."
He continued: “Scrapping the 2014 canvass alongside the legal duty for people to register represents a double-whammy and will lead to millions of people to fall off the register. Combine this with the new rolling boundary review rules and it will mean that many people on the margins of society will be disenfranchised in the 2020 general election."
“It is a simple fact of life that effective electoral administration costs money. This is not an administrative issue but one that cuts to the heart of our democracy. This isn’t a question of bureaucracy but of who gets to participate in our political system. It is bad enough that the voting system excludes so many people; when even the registration system is rigged against under-represented groups we cannot call ourselves a democracy by any definition," said Mr Facey.
“Given the economic situation, if the government believes that the cost to introduce individual voter registration properly cannot be afforded, it should abandon these plans. However flawed the current system of household registration may be, it is a lot better than what the government are now proposing,” concluded the organisation's CEO.
Unlock Democracy is a leading UK campaign for democracy, rights and freedoms. It was formed in 2007 and is the successor organisation to Charter 88 and the New Politics Network.