This is a guest post from Dr Zubaida Haque, the Deputy Director of the Runnymede Trust.
There are over 8 million black and ethnic minority people in Britain, yet research from the Electoral Commission suggests that 1 in 3 people from mixed ethnic backgrounds and 1 in 4 black and Asian people and approx 40% of Commonwealth citizens are not registered to vote (compared to 17% of all people in Great Britain). Given the size of the ethnic minority population (and the rapidly changing demographic profile of this country) this has huge implications for electoral politics.
Research on ethnic minority voter registration and turnout is scarce, but research by Runnymede Trust suggests that there are two key reasons why black and ethnic minority and Commonwealth citizens may not be registered to vote: they don’t know that they are entitled to vote and/or because they don’t know how to register to vote. Other reasons include insecure housing tenure (moving often/recently changed address/homelessness etc), lack of awareness that they might not be automatically registered (even if they pay council tax) and language/digital access issues.
Research on turnout data, however suggests, that ethnic minorities who are on the electoral register, are just as likely to vote as their white British counterparts, although there is some minor variations between some of the ethnic groups.
The integrity of our democratic process involves ensuring that those who are eligible to vote are on the electoral register, but currently we know very little about what activities are undertaken on a local level to raise awareness of voter registration and participation of ethnic minority electors. It is for this reason that The Runnymede Trust, a leading race equality think tank and Voice4Change England, a race equality charity, are together conducting independent research to map all the activities (including good practice) undertaken by Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) to enhance completeness of the electoral register.
We are asking Electoral Registration Officers across the country if they could spare us less than 10 minutes to complete an anonymous and confidential survey on voter registration activities. The survey can be found on this link https://bit.ly/2YDYNlX and a PDF of the whole survey is also available below for those who would like to view the whole questionnaire before they complete the online survey
We are interested in all the activities which EROs undertake to enhance voter registration completeness and turnout, but we are also interested in finding out more about what, if anything, EROs do to raise awareness of voter registration and turnout among ethnic, faith or racial groups (including Commonwealth citizens) in their local authorities.
The closing date for this survey is Wednesday 22nd January but it would be hugely helpful if Electoral Registration Officers, or members of their team, could complete this survey while voter registration information is still fresh in their minds.
In advance, the Runnymede Trust and Voice4Change would like to thank you for helping us with our research. Please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] if you have any queries.