This weekend is Labour’s national campaign weekend for voter registration, to support our ‘Missing Million’ campaign. This campaign is headed by Gloria De Piero, Labour’s new Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Registration. I’m really pleased that we are prioritising this issue for our campaigning, as it is an issue not just of democracy, but equality too.
According to Hope Not Hate, there are already eight million people missing from the electoral register. With the Government’s rushed transition to the new Individual Electoral Registration system, another two million could vanish on top of that. That would mean one in five eligible voters would not have a vote: a terrible blow to our democracy.
This is not just an issue of numbers, though. I know the impact that under-registration can have from my own constituency – those who are better-off tend to have more representation per capita than those who are disadvantaged, and this trend will only be exacerbated by the Government’s changes. Based on the number of people registered under the new system, the Government are planning to redraw parliamentary constituency boundaries to reduce the number from 650 to 600.
We could be left with a situation where huge swathes of the population are left without a voice. If not enough people are registered before the cut-off point on 1 December, the voting system will be heavily stacked in favour of those who are well-off, and against young people, students, BAME people, and those in private rented accommodation.
It is a sad reality that those who would gain most from engaging in politics are the least empowered to do so. This Government want to make the situation even worse. That is why it’s so crucial for voter registration to be top of our agenda in the months ahead. In Bristol West the Labour team will be pounding the streets this weekend to register people. Please join us in our fight to protect our democracy.
And remember, registering to vote takes only three minutes and can be done online using this link http://gov.uk/register-to-vote