Today is the first-ever National Voter Registration Day – a fantastic initiative by Bite the Ballot to get as many (particularly younger) people on the electoral register as possible. A large number of schools, businesses, associations and volunteers are coming together in an attempt to get 250,000 new names registered to vote.
Today is also the day we reveal a shocking new finding: almost one in four (24%) people aged 18-21 have never registered to vote, according to a new ComRes poll commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society.
Read about our findings in The Independent.
Registering to vote is the first step towards participating in our democracy. With one in four young people not taking this step, that’s a lot of voices not being heard in our democratic process. Young people are less likely to register, and less likely to vote – and that has real consequences for the shape of our politics and the strength of our system.
That’s why it is so important to get behind initiatives like Bite the Ballot’s National Voter Registration Day. The problem of under-registration, particularly among young people, needs the energy and focus of as many groups as possible if it is going to be solved. We urge all organisations and individuals who care about the future of our democracy to take part in getting as many young people as possible registered to vote.”
The survey also shows that less than half (46%) of the population registered themselves when they were first eligible to vote, with others either relying on someone else – such as a family member – to get them on the electoral register or not registering at all. Changes being introduced this year will mean that it will be everyone’s personal responsibility to get on the register.
The introduction of Individual Electoral Registration is an important and much-needed reform, and we are proud to have had a role in shaping it. But if it is not managed carefully then millions are at risk of going unregistered. And that would be a disaster for our democracy.
So let’s make sure voter registration gets the attention it deserves – not just today, on National Voter Registration Day – but from now on.