We need a registration revolution in the UK, to ensure that everyone can use their democratic right. And there is plenty that can be done.
We want to see the government working closely with electoral registration officers, charities, campaigners, regulators and others to ensure every last step is taken to maximise voter registration in the UK. And we need moves towards automatic voter registration so that whenever you are in contact with the government you can sign up.
What’s the issue?
The move away from household registration to Individual Electoral Registration (IER) in 2014 was a huge change to the way we do elections. Now we need to take the next step. Individual Electoral Registration helps the accuracy of the register. But with many people dropping off the register as a result, we need solutions to do IER in the right way.
The Missing Millions
Moving house is a big deal and registering to vote can often be a low priority. Many people may only realise they didn’t get around to registering at election time, when it is already too late.
The Electoral Commission estimated around 8 million people were not correctly registered on the local government registers in December 2022.
The number of registered electors has been used to decide the size of constituencies since 1940. However, over time the gap between those registered and the total population of eligible electors has increased.
The parliamentary electoral registers were only 86% complete in 2022.
Why does it matter? Unrepresentative electoral registers will lead to unrepresentative constituencies. Urban and socially deprived areas where registration rates are low are likely to have fewer MPs per person than affluent areas where registration is high.
We always see a surge of people registering to vote in the run-up to an election, why not take them into account when designing the boundaries?
A registration revolution
We want to see reforms to ensure as many people are signed up to vote as possible:
- Registering voters automatically or when engaging with public bodies.
- Trialling same-day registration so you can sign up on election day. After all, the heat of an election campaign is when people get most interested in politics.
- An online service to find out if you are registered.
- Drawing boundaries on the basis of the total population of eligible voters – rather than just those who are already signed up.