voter registration

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.”

Millions still at risk of falling off electoral register

4th July 2013
4 Jul 2013
Tags: 
voter registration
missing millions
individual electoral registration

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Millions still at risk of falling off electoral register

The Electoral Reform Society has welcomed the government’s commitment to boosting the number of people who register to vote[1], but warns against the real dangers which still exist around the policy of individual electoral registration.
 
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “The government appears to have recognised the risk that millions of people may fall off the electoral register and become effectively disenfranchised as a result of individual electoral registration. But this comes late in the day, and the dangers are still all too real.
 
“It’s good news that local groups and local authorities will now have the chance to win resources to put towards solving the urgent problem of people not being registered to vote. And it’s absolutely right that these efforts should focus on groups which are particularly at risk, such as young people and those who live in social housing.
 
“However, when you’re talking about trying to prevent literally millions of people[2] from falling off the register, you need to throw a lot of resources at the problem. We’re concerned that today’s offer won’t nearly be enough to close the gap. And the government’s policy still has serious weaknesses. For instance, the fact that the new system will come in shortly before a general election risks a big fall in voter turnout in 2015.
“There are practical steps the government could take to improve voter registration. For instance we believe they should consider making it possible for people to put themselves on the electoral register on the day of an election. This kind of system could even be extended so that whenever people interact with government – for instance when they collect their pensions or benefits – they are able to get on the register.”
 
The ERS previously campaigned successfully for changes to the government’s policy on individual electoral registration[3]. These included:

Removing the ability for people to ‘opt out’ of being on the register


Ensuring that it remained compulsory for citizens to place themselves on the register


Retaining the annual canvass

 
For more information or comment, contact mediaoffice@electoral-reform.org.uk or call Will Brett on 07979 696 265.


[1] Chloe Smith, Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, today announced a new drive by the Government to get people on to the electoral register:
 

  

 

The Missing Millions still at risk

23rd May 2012
23 May 2012
Tags: 
ier
individual electoral registration
voter registration
missing millions

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The Missing Millions still at risk

The second reading of the Individual Electoral Registration bill to fundamentally change the way we register to vote began today with Labour issuing a reasoned amendment against the bill.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, commented:

This bill is the right move but it needs to be introduced in the right way. If millions of British voters are left without a say, British democracy will suffer.

‘During this time of change, when the register will be at its most vulnerable, it should not be used as the basis for the boundary changes.

‘Under current proposals we could see poorer areas of the country, often the areas most in need of representation, receiving less representation than richer areas where people are more likely to be registered. This is fundamentally undemocratic.

‘We are recommending that the government use population figures instead as these are likely to provide a more accurate picture.’

Labour’s reasoned amendment also raises concerns about the bill’s impact on the completeness of the register. Katie continues

We share some of Labour’s concerns regarding the impact on younger people, older people, some ethnic minorities and those who move house and are asking the government to develop a safety net to ensure the ‘Missing Millions’ does not come to pass.

‘Right before a general election is no time for shortcuts. The government should be removing the hurdles to voting, not putting up new ones.’

The Electoral Reform Society is asking that the Government publish the secondary legislation urgently, to ensure that there is enough time to develop the necessary safety measures to protect against losing millions of people from the register.

ENDS

View Labour’s reasoned amendment

Notes to Editors
1. The Electoral Reform Society is an independent campaigning organisation working to champion the rights of voters and improve UK democracy.
2. To find out more visit www.electoral-reform.org.uk
3. Civil society and EROs raise issues with plans for IER in Missing Millions report

Stars Call On Young Londoners To Make History At The UK's Biggest Youth Voting Registration

4th April 2012
4 Apr 2012
Tags: 
youth
voter registration
rally
bite the ballot
election

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0203 371 8978

Stars Call On Young Londoners To Make History At The UK’s Biggest Youth Voting Registration

London, 26th March 2012 - Bite the Ballot supported by Spirit Of London Awards, UpRise and the Community Channel’s London360 launches ‘Youth Vote London’.

Bite The Ballot’s campaign is calling on young people to be a part of the biggest voting registration rally ever held in the UK, on 14th April, at the legendary Ministry of Sound from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

The aims of the day are to inspire young people to register, be an active part of the UK’s democracy and use the power of their vote to create the changes they need and want. Entertainment will include special guest-speakers, actors, musicians, comedians, DJs, mayoral candidates Ken Livingstone, Siobhan Benita, Brian Paddick and Jenny Jones.

Youth Vote London’s supporters include Alesha Dixon, Ashley Walters, Estelle, Twilight’s Judi Shekoni, Westlife’s Mark Feehily, Rizzle Kicks, Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, Treasure Island’s Shaun Parkes, Eastenders’ Preeya Kalidas, Tanya Franks, Tinie Tempah and Wretch32.

Speaking out to encourage young people to support ‘Youth Vote London’, Tinie Tempah said, ''Lead the change and register to vote on 14th April. Be part of the solution; use your vote. Young people are the future and have the power to make a change!''

Young Londoner, Usaama Kaweesa, added,

A vote is not just a cross on a ballot. It’s about our future and the future of our country. The change we want to see in Britain will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. That’s why I’m going to Bite the Ballot’s rally to get registered to vote and I hope to see loads of other young people there too.

Community Channel’s London360 will air a 30-minute TV and online special, on YOUTUBE from April 2nd and on the Community Channel (Sky 539 /Virgin Media 233 / Freeview 87) from April 16th. The show busts common myths about voting and inspires young people to engage and act by registering their vote at a rally on April 14th - ready for the London Mayoral Election on May 3rd.

London360 have also created a celebrity packed online viral, featuring BAFTA Award winner Adam Deacon, Alesha Dixon, Ashley Walters, Cleo Sol, Estelle, Channel 4 broadcaster Jon Snow, Mark Feehily (Westlife), Mz Bratt, Noel Clarke, Princess Nyah, Eastenders actress Preeya Kaliads, Rizzle Kicks, Radio 1 broadcaster Scott Mills, Sway, Tinie Tempah, Wretch32, and many more.

With the level of disengagement and frustration among young people at an all time high in the UK, the groundbreaking event aims to increase the youth vote in the upcoming London Mayoral elections on May 3rd 2012.

ENDS

For further information please contact:
Catherine Lyn Scott
Email: cls@londonflairpr.com
Tel: 0203 371 8978

Event Youth Sign up: http://youthvotelondon.eventbrite.co.uk/

Notes to the Editor:

About Youth Vote London: The groundbreaking event is hosted by Bite the Ballot and supported by Spirit Of London Awards, Ministry of Sound and media partner Community Channel’s London360. The day will provide a platform for youth organisations from across London to promote their work and unite in their efforts to champion the voice of younger generations.

Bite the Ballot continues to bridge the gap between everyday young people and politics in the hope that the 2015 General Election and the upcoming mayoral election will have the highest turnout of young voters ever. Bite the Ballot is a grass-roots movement aiming to play a key role in inspiring engagement of everyday young people.

Yes we can! @BitetheBallot #YouthVoteLondon

Government 'putting a lot of faith' in data matching schemes which 'need further testing'

1st March 2012
1 Mar 2012
Tags: 
individual electoral registration
ier
data matching
electoral commission
voter registration

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Government 'putting a lot of faith' in data matching schemes which 'need further testing'

The Electoral Commission today published their evaluation report on the Government's proposed data matching schemes which aim to improve the accuracy and completeness of electoral registers.

The scheme has been proposed as a way of facilitating the move to Individual Electoral Registration by automatically registering under the new system those of us whose data can be confirmed through other government records such as DWP data.

Katie Ghose, Electoral Reform Society says:

The Electoral Commission's report on data matching confirms much of what we already know: that it would involve a huge amount of local authority staff time and will do nothing to identify those missing from the register.

What we don’t know is what data matching will cost and how it will be managed at a local level.

The government are looking for a quick fix to address widespread concerns over the huge drop-off in registered voters predicted for the switch to IER. Data matching is not it. Even in a best case scenario, it will do nothing to increase registration and it seems that the government is putting a lot of faith in a process that the Electoral Commission says needs further testing.

ENDS

Download Electoral Commission evaluation report: http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/146836/Data-matching-pilot-evaluation.pdf

Notes to Editors

  1. The Electoral Reform Society is an independent campaigning organisation working to champion the rights of voters and improve UK democracy. Find out more at www.electoral-reform.org.uk
  2. In October 2011 the Electoral Reform Society organised a cross-party roundtable which included local and national officials working on registration, and key organisations representing groups facing exclusion from the register. The report Missing Millions is available to download.
  3. For further information see www.electoral-reform.org.uk/IER/