ERS raises concern over young electoral registrations

Analysis by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has concluded that young people are facing a ‘voter registration time bomb’, after figures showed the number of school leavers on the electoral roll has dropped by more than a quarter in three years.

The society, which campaigns on access to democracy, called on parties to step up their game to register young people, who are more likely to fall off the electoral roll after the introduction of individual electoral registration in 2014.

Rather than have a single person from the household register everyone in the family, the responsibility falls to each individual separately. The ERS maintained that the change improved the accuracy of the register, but resulted in a sharp decline in the number of 16- and 17-year-olds listed on the register.

The findings also indicated that the biggest drop have large black & minority ethnic (BME) communities, such as Hackney and Bethnal Green and Bow in London, suggesting school leavers from already marginalised groups have not re-registered since parents/guardians stopped signing them up.

Katie Ghose, ERS’s chief executive, said: “These findings should sound the alarm to young people across the country that they need to register to vote if they want to have their say on 8 June.

“There is a real risk that this election could be one where the registration time bomb goes off, leaving hundreds of thousands without a voice. The collapse in the number of 16- and 17-year-olds on the register in 2016 is a warning sign to anyone who cares about political engagement and young people’s stake in our democracy.

“With just a week to go to register in time for the General Election, it’s vital that the new generation of potential voters – people who may have fallen off the electoral roll since the registration system was changed – sign up before it’s too late.”

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