‘Herculean effort’ needed to close voter registration gap in final week

By agency reporter
November 20, 2019

Democracy campaigners are calling for a ‘historic effort’ to ensure that up to 9.4 million people who are not on the electoral register are signed up before next week’s deadline.

The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) notes that while around 1.7 million applications to register to vote have been made since the election was called, there are still millions likely to missing, according to the independent organisation. 

The ERS are calling for a ‘registration revolution’, urging parties to commit to moving towards automatic voter registration.  including allowing people to sign up whenever they engage with public services or bodies.

There are major demographic inequalities in terms of who is on the electoral roll. Electoral Commission figures show that private renters remain the least likely to have up to date register entries (58 per cent) compared to people who own their houses outright (91 per cent).

Registration levels are also low among young people aged 18-34, with only 71 per cent correctly registered, compared to 94 per cent for people aged 65 and over.

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director of the ERS, said: “We need to see a herculean effort to bring in the ‘missing millions’ before the 26 November deadline.

“Unfortunately the surge in applications to register so far only scratches the surface when it comes to the up-to 9.4m thought to be missing from the electoral roll. Without a huge push this week, next month’s vote will be the ‘missing millions’ election – with young people, BME voters and many low-income voices left out of the debate.

“All of us have a role in signing up those hard-to-reach groups. It takes just five minutes to do at gov.uk/register-to-vote. Sadly, it’s likely that many of the sign-ups so far are likely to have been from already-registered voters, as there’s no way for people to check they’re already on the register.

“Parties need to recognise the system is broken: after the election we need a ‘registration revolution’, moving towards automatic voter registration as in many other advanced democracies. In the 21st century, you shouldn’t have to ‘opt in’ to your right to vote. But while we do, all of us should encourage friends, family, colleagues and others to sign up. Despite an out-of-date voting system, this election will be pivotal to Britain’s future direction. Sign up, get involved and be heard.”

* Register to vote here

* Electoral Reform Society https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/

[Ekk/6]

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