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Published November 2015
Electoral registration underpins our democratic system. Yet, with several elections and an EU referendum on the horizon as many as 10 million people may not be registered to vote – around 20 per cent of the UK’s total electorate.
Changes to the voter registration system mean people must now be registered individually, rather than the previous system of household registration. The problem is that millions are already not registered and unless urgent reforms are made to the new registration system millions more will drop off the list.
The switch to individual voter registration is falling short of expectations and time is fast running out. From December 1st 2015 the new electoral registers based solely on those registered individually comes into force and anyone not transferred over will not be able to vote. Such a scale of disenfranchised voters (combined with the proposed changes to MPs’ constituency boundaries) will affect the outcome of future elections, especially in urban areas.
This paper demonstrates the need to rethink voter registration. The government may well see electoral advantage in turning a blind eye to the crisis. On past voting patterns the Conservative party is clearly less affected than the other major parties by the fall in voter registration. However, what is at stake here is not just the prospect of party political advantage but the integrity and value of the democratic process.