fair franchise

One in four young people have never registered to vote, new poll shows

5th February 2014
5 Feb 2014
Tags: 
ier
missing millions
fair franchise

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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. [1]

The shocking figure comes on the day of a nationwide campaign by pressure group Bite the Ballot to get as many people as possible on the electoral register. The inaugural National Voter Registration Day, on 5 February, sees schools, businesses and associations come together in an attempt to get 250,000 new names on the electoral register. A number of celebrities including Tinie Tempah and Eliza Doolittle are also backing the initiative. [2]

 Darren Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“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 fantastic 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 new figures suggest that when these changes come in, millions will be at risk of going un-registered.

Darren Hughes added:

“For many people, getting on the register was something which their family did for them. But for young people who are about to become eligible to vote, that option will no longer be available and it will be up to them to register. The introduction of Individual Electoral Registration is an important and much-needed reform, but if it is not managed carefully then millions are at risk of going un-registered.”

ENDS

For more information, full poll results and interviews contact Will Brett on 07979 696 265 / will.brett@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

1.       A table showing the key poll results is here:

Q. Thinking back to when you were first eligible to register to vote in an election in the UK, who registered you to vote?

 

Registered by

Total % selected

18-21 year olds

22-25 year olds

26-29 year olds

Yourself

46%

32%

50%

55%


 

Parent / Guardian


28%


31%


27%


26%

School / College / University halls

2%

2%

4%

1%


Other family member


1%


1%


*


2%

Housemate / Flatmate

*

*

1%

*


 

Someone else


2%


1%


3%


1%

Never registered

11%

24%

7%

3%


Don’t know


10%


9%


8%


12%

 

 

 

 

 

Bases: All GB Adults aged 18-29 (n=904); aged 18-21 (n=206); aged 22-25 (n=371); aged 26-29 (n=327).

2. To find out more about Bite the Ballot’s National Voter Registration Day initiative, visit http://bitetheballot.co.uk/nvrd/

METHODOLOGY NOTE

ComRes interviewed 904 GB adults aged 18-29 between 22nd and 30th January 2014. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18-29. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

Towards One Nation: the Labour case for local electoral reform

30th January 2014
30 Jan 2014
Tags: 
local democracy
fair franchise
labour

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Labour should embrace a fairer voting system for local elections if it wants to live up to its ‘One Nation’ ambitions, according to a new report by the Electoral Reform Society.

The report, Towards One Nation, shows that introducing the ‘Scottish system’[1] for local elections would put Labour on the map across the country – especially in the ‘electoral deserts’ of the South – and ensure Labour voters get their fair share of Labour councillors.

Local electoral reform:

· Would put Labour councillors in 27 of the 69 local authorities which were ‘Labour-free’ in 2011
· Would strengthen, rather than weaken, Labour’s super-majorities in urban areas
· Has seen Labour retain power in Scotland since its introduction in 2007, despite the Scottish National Party’s improved performance in recent years. Labour is now in government in four more Scottish councils than it was in 1999.

Towards One Nation demonstrates how local electoral reform is both good for voters (it gives Labour voters in the party’s weaker regions, such as rural areas and the south of England, genuine representation) and good for the party (by making campaigning worthwhile in every part of the country).

The table below shows ten examples of how Labour would benefit from proportional representation in local elections in the south of England.

Fig.1 Ten southern English councils and the effect of local electoral reform

Council

Last election

2012 Seats

Seats under PR[2]

Bracknell Forest


28.3%


2


12

Castle Point


26.9%


0


11

East Hertfordshire


20.2%


0


10

Eastleigh


15.0%


0


7

Fenland


17.0%


0


7

Maidstone


15.2%


1


8

North Norfolk


17.7%


0


8

Runnymede


17.7%


0


7

Tunbridge Wells


18.2%


2


9

Windsor and Maidenhead


11.9%


0


7

 

See a graphic representation of this table

Phil Collins, columnist for The Times, writes in a foreword to the report:

The 69 district and unitary councils which had no Labour representation at all in 2011 is chastening. Some of these are the contemporary equivalents of the rotten borough… Starting with Keir Hardie himself, electoral reform has always had its Labour supporters but it has never been a majority pursuit in a party which benefited from an unfair system. It is time it was. It is good for the health of the Labour party and it is good for the health of politics more widely.”

Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“For all its ambition to represent people from across the country, Labour is practically non-existent in parts of the south of England and rural areas. Thousands of people vote Labour in these places, yet simply don’t get the representation they deserve.

“This isn’t just a problem for Labour – it’s a problem for the health of our democracy. Over a quarter of the electorate in Castle Point, Essex, voted Labour in 2012, yet this didn’t yield a single councillor. That makes a mockery of the idea of democratic representation. ‘No-go’ areas for parties have no place in a modern democracy.

“Local electoral reform would allow Labour to represent its voters in the south of England, giving the party a crucial toehold in areas where they need to rebuild their activist base. Labour has made much of being a One Nation party and renewing its structures to reach out to a wider pool of supporters and voters. Local electoral reform would help the party do exactly that.”

Andrew Burns, Labour leader of Edinburgh City Council, said:

“Labour in Scotland are doing as well in terms of leaders and better in terms of influence than they ever did under the old non-PR system. The labour councillors who were so heavily concentrated in certain parts of the country are now spread more thinly but more widely across the whole country, doing away with ‘them and us‘ areas and creating a real ‘One Nation’ Labour party. If Ed Miliband is to address the English north-south divide in terms of representation then introducing the Scottish system for local elections would be an important step.”

ENDS

For more information contact Will Brett at 07979 696 265 / will.brett@electoral-reform.org.uk

Read the full report here: /sites/default/files/Towards_One_Nation_ 29Jan2014Final.pdf

NOTES

1. Scotland’s local elections are conducted under the Single Transferable Vote. For more about this voting system visit ?PageID=483

2. Based on proportion of the vote at the last local election

[1] Scotland’s local elections are conducted under the Single Transferable Vote. For more about this voting system visit ?PageID=483

[2] Based on proportion of the vote at the last local election

 

Let's not be squeamish about bringing politics into the classroom

21st January 2014
21 Jan 2014
Tags: 
votes at 16
voter disengagement
fair franchise

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Responding to David Blunkett’s speech to the Centre for Social Justice on political disengagement[1], Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“David Blunkett is absolutely right to be concerned about the way young people are turning away from politics. Fewer than one in eight people under the age of 25 intend to vote[2], making our democracy increasingly illegitimate and skewed against those who don’t turn up.

“He is also right to call for political awareness to be ‘part of the natural development of young people’. Democratic politics is a crucial part of what it means to live in our society, and we shouldn’t be afraid to bring young people into contact with it. That means not being squeamish about bringing politics into the classroom, and recognising that explicitly political activism can be just as valuable as charitable volunteering.

“Schools could be places where both young people and adults start to build a new relationship with the idea of politics. If we combined an increased acceptance of politics at school with a stronger commitment to civic education and lowering the voting age to 16, then perhaps we can start to reverse some of these damaging trends. We need to change our culture so that politics is seen as a part of everyone’s lives, rather than something done by remote, alien people in faraway places.”

Statement on voter ID proposal

8th January 2014
8 Jan 2014
Tags: 
missing millions
fair franchise
voter registration

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The Electoral Commission today recommended that voters should be required to produce ID at the polling station as a measure to tackle electoral fraud. Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said in response:

 
“At a time when people are increasingly turning away from politics, it’s important that we do not put up new barriers to participation. Of course it is vital to tackle electoral fraud, but we have to be sure that by doing so we are not inadvertently contributing to the problem of voter disengagement.
 
“This year sees the biggest change to the way we vote since the universal franchise was established in 1928. Moving from household to individual electoral registration is hugely complex and needs to be executed to perfection if it is to avoid disenfranchising whole sections of the population.
 
“Meanwhile, more and more people are turning away from politics. With nearly half ‘angry’ at politicians and only 41% saying they’re certain to vote, you have to wonder whether this is the right time to be talking about making it harder to cast a ballot.
 
“At a time like this, we should be doing everything we can to get people on the register and into the polling station. We need to be thinking about how to make it easier for people to register to vote: for instance, we could offer the opportunity to register when people have other dealings with their local authority, or even at the polling station itself. And we need to be tackling voter disengagement by introducing much-needed reforms like local proportional representation and votes at 16.
 
“We should think very carefully before adding an extra hurdle for voters to negotiate before they are allowed to vote. The devil will be in the detail, of course, and we will await the Electoral Commission’s report on this issue later this year. What kind of ID will be required? Will it be a type of ID that automatically makes it harder for less well-off people to participate? And how much resource would be set aside to ensure that the public is made fully aware of this change? The last thing anyone wants to see is people being turned away from the polling station for administrative reasons.
 
“In short, let’s wait and see. But first of all, let’s concentrate on ushering in a registration revolution that gets more, not less, people on to the register. Let’s also focus our efforts on bringing people closer to politics, not turning them away.”