Leading charities, campaign groups and experts unite for final voter registration push – and demand system overhaul

Posted on the 22nd November 2019

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society – Monday 25th November
  • Quotes available on request

A powerful coalition of civil society organisations, campaigners, academics and charities have called for an urgent update of the registration system, ahead of tomorrow’s deadline.

In a letter published in The Times today [1], the coalition – spearheaded by the Electoral Reform Society – are calling for action to bring in many of the 9 million missing potential voters who are left off the electoral roll, according to Electoral Commission figures.

After launching what is thought to be the first joint registration drive since the EU referendum – National Voter Registration Day last Friday – the campaign has been backed by organisations including Operation Black Vote, the British Youth Council, Runnymede Trust, NUS, as well as youth organisations, LGBT groups and experts.

Over 300,000 people applied to register to vote on the ERS’ National Voter Registration Day – almost double the highest for any day since the election was called [2].

Over 2.8m applications to join the electoral roll have been made since the election was called on October 29th [3] – again, almost double the comparable time period in the 2017 election (1.48m registrations).

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director of the Electoral Reform Society:

“Time is running out to register in time for this election. With millions still missing from the electoral roll, we have to do all we can to bring in the ‘missing millions’. Our National Voter Registration Day on Friday saw over 300,000 apply to register to vote – a huge boost. But there’s still a long way to go. It only takes 5 minutes to do online. Go to gov.uk/registertovote – and spread the word.”

“We need a registration revolution in this country, to end the scandal of political inequality when it comes to who is on the electoral roll. It’s time to modernise the system and move towards automatic registration.

“It should be easy to check if you’re registered online, and to register whenever you engage with public bodies/services. This broad, diverse coalition is demanding change and we hope all parties listen.”

Joint statement from 16 leading charities, campaigners and experts:

“With millions of people missing from the electoral roll, it’s time to pull out all the stops and ensure everyone can have their say on December 12th. It takes just 5 minutes to register and it’s vital if you’re not already signed up that you do so. Time is running out.

“As organisations representing a hugely diverse spectrum of society, we believe it is vital this election is built on a fair and universal franchise. That’s why registration is so important: if you’re not on signed up by midnight on November 26th, you can’t have your say.

“We have to end the scandal of the ‘missing millions’. After this election, we call on all parties to commit to updating the system so it works for the whole UK. There are huge gaps in the electoral roll – from young people to BME groups and those on low-incomes: let’s close the gap and move towards automatic registration. In the meantime, we need to see an enormous push to bring in the ‘missing millions’. It’s time to be heard.”  

  • Jess Blair, Electoral Reform Society
  • Jo Hobbs, Chief Executive, British Youth Council
  • Omar Khan, Director, Runnymede Trust
  • Simon Woolley, Operation Black Vote
  • Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive LGBT Foundation
  • Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS National President
  • Andy Gregg, Chief Executive, Race On The Agenda
  • Professor Matt Henn, Nottingham Trent University
  • Dr James Sloam, Democracy and Elections Centre, Royal Holloway
  • Sarah Clarke, Unlock Democracy
  • James Cathcart, Director, Young Voices Heard
  • Cara English, Gendered Intelligence
  • Matt Gillow, TalkPolitics
  • Mete Coban, Chief Executive at My Life My Say
  • Matteo Bergamini, CEO and Founder, ShoutOut UK
  • Areeq Chowdhury, Founder, WebRoots Democracy


Link to register: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote


Figures on the registration gap and the demographic divide: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/millions-missing-from-the-electoral-register-in-event-of-snap-election/

Notes to Editors

[1] Letter here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/new-education-models-and-time-pressures-00gmznj99

[2] https://www.gov.uk/performance/register-to-vote

[3] https://www.gov.uk/performance/register-to-vote/registrations-breakdown

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