If millions of British voters lose their voice, British democracy will suffer.
The introduction of Individual Electoral Registration is a huge change to the way we do elections - it has to be done right.
We welcome the move to Individual Electoral Registration (IER) but we’re concerned that the proposals, if implemented badly, could have a devastating impact on British democracy by alienating millions of voters right before the 2015 general election.
The Electoral Reform Society is a leading voice in the call for improvements to the legislation on Individual Electoral Registration.
Why change to Individual Electoral Registration?
The current system is household registration; a Victorian system from an era when being able to vote was based on property rights, it has been described as an ‘open door’ to fraud.
We’re now the only Western democracy that still uses household registration.
The introduction of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) will improve the accuracy of the register and help to counter fraud. It’s the right move, it just needs to be done in the right way. Just before a general election the government should be removing the hurdles to voting, not putting up new ones.
What’s the problem
Some good news!
The Electoral Reform Society has been campaigning to make important changes to the legislation on Individual Electoral Registration and we’re delighted that the government has listened. We now have a much better bill as a result.
The Electoral Commission has warned that the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) risks bringing registration rates down from over 90% to 65%
meaning millions of people would no longer have a say over the decisions which affect their lives.
The government has come a long way but is still ignoring many of the warnings from registration officers and charities who are all saying the same thing: That crossing fingers and hoping for the best is not good enough, we need a safety net.
We have spent years building up the register. We’re concerned that all that work will be undone. We could be looking at a 20-30,000 drop from a register of 165,000.
Michael Summerville, Electoral Registration Officer
The issue now is implementation and we’ll be watching closely to ensure the shift to Individual Electoral Registration doesn’t disenfranchise millions of British voters.
Currently not enough is being done to ensure at risk groups are protected and we feel the government is sticking its fingers in its ears and ignoring the warnings from registration officers and charities who are all saying the same thing: That this massive change and it comes in right before a General Election. Crossing fingers and hoping for the best is not good enough - we need a safety net.
Lurking danger: The impact on the Boundary Changes
Unrepresentative electoral registers will lead to unrepresentative constituencies. Being unregistered doesn’t mean you don’t deserve support from your MP. Under the current proposals urban and socially deprived areas where registration is low are likely to have less MPs per person that affluent areas where registration is high. This is completely undemocratic.
Electoral Registration and Administration Bill
Committee stage briefing – day 2 [pdf]