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

Posted on the 19th November 2019

11:59pm on 26 November is the deadline to register to vote in the General Election on 12 December – but campaigners fear millions will be missing. 

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, 19th November 2019
  • Contact [email protected] / 07717211630 for more information or interview bids. 

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

The Electoral Reform Society note that while around 1.7m applications to register to vote have been made since the election was called [1], there are still millions likely to missing, according to the independent organisation. 100,000 applications were received yesterday (18th).

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/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%) compared to people who own their houses outright (91%).

Registration levels are also low among young people aged 18-34, with only 71% correctly registered, compared to 94% 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 November 26th 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 5 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.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

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

Stats on registration: 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/

Voter Registration – changes needed:

  • A registration revolution to bring electoral registration into the 21st century with the aim of improving the accuracy and completeness of the electoral registers, and making registration easier and more in line with citizens’ daily lives
  • A motor voter law so citizens can register to vote whenever they are in contact with the government
  • An online look-up service – whether centralised or separate for each local authority – to allow people to check if they have already registered to vote
  • In the absence of moves towards more automatic registration, same-day registration or voting anywhere in within a constituency should be trialled

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