Our analysis of the electoral registers in England and Wales

On 1 December 2014, Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) across England and Wales published revised electoral registers. Today, we have published our analysis of those registers. It identified that the size of the registers in England and Wales was approximately 2% lower in December 2014 than it was in February/March 2014. This means there were around 920,000 fewer entries on the registers in December 2014, due to people not being added to the register rather than anyone being removed because of the change in the registration system.

Whilst these figures are a snapshot of the electorate at that time, nobody wants to see a single person miss out from having their say on 7 May because they’re not registered to vote. The registers will not have remained static since then, with a significant amount of work having taken place to get people registered in recent weeks, including on National Voter Registration Day. We must all continue to work hard to get people onto the registers.

Our analysis has found that three traditionally under-registered groups – Homemovers, students and attainers (16 and 17 year olds) – have been the least likely to be added to the registers. I must stress that between now and the registration deadline there will be lots of activities targeted at these groups to get them registered.

Homemovers
I’m sure many of you will agree that moving home is a stressful event! There are loads of things to sort out and typically, registering to vote is not near the top of that list. However, the lack of a traditional household canvass in autumn 2014, a situation unique to 2014, has meant that many homemovers were not captured as effectively as in the past.

Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) have, or will be, sending a letter to every household which will give residents an opportunity to check their details on the register are accurate. The letter prompts anyone who’s living at the property, but is not being shown as registered to vote there, to get online and register at http://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

Students
There have been challenges in getting students registered at their term-time address. EROs with large student populations all have specific activities planned to target students. At the Commission, on 1 March, we’ll be launching a digital campaign aimed at getting students registered (look out for a blog about it soon). We’ve also been working with organisations like the NUS, the Association of Colleges, Universities UK and other bodies to encourage registration drives on university and college campuses.

Today, the Government announced extra funding for one of our partners – the NUS – to run a national competition for student unions to find the best idea for encouraging students to register to vote.

Attainers (16 and 17 year olds)
Getting people who will have turned 18 onto the registers by the time polling day comes has also been a challenge. We will have specific advertising aimed at those groups running on Facebook encouraging them to register to vote.

Parents and carers who have 16 or 17 year olds living in their home should also look out to see if their names are on the letter being sent by EROs. If they are not on there, please inform your local council. Any 16 or 17 year olds who aren’t shown as being registered can also fill in an application online.

 

While no-one on the 1 December registers will be removed from the register before the May 2015 elections, more needs to be done to target those not yet included on the register at their current address. Electoral Registration Officers and their teams are working hard every day to ensure that everyone who is eligible can register to vote. It’s encouraging that there have been around 2 million applications to register to vote since 1 December. Many of these have been through the new online system, which has over 90% satisfaction rate.

Help us get people registered by encouraging family and friends who aren’t registered yet to go online. It takes just a few minutes to complete a form.

You can see more about our report in our press release here and you can read the report itself here.

Alex Robertson
Director of Communications

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