Today is National Voter Registration Day and this year is more important than ever as the Government’s changes to electoral registration have left thousands of Lucy’s constituents without their democratic rights and damaged our democracy.
Analysis of the new electoral register shows that 12,795 people across Manchester have fallen off the register over the past year and without drastic action, thousands more could fall off in the coming years.
Of the five Manchester constituencies, Lucy’s constituency of Manchester Central is most affected, with 5,522 voters falling off the register in the last 12 months.
In 2014 the Government introduced individual electoral registration. These changes mean that households can no longer register everyone who lives there. Instead each person must now register individually. Since this change, one million people have dropped off the register across the UK. The new rules also prevent university halls of residence from block registering students as they did previously, and this is said to have led to a huge decline in registration levels among students which is a particular issue in Manchester Central.
“Young people particularly have been hit hard by this government whether it’s the abolition of education maintenance allowance, the trebling of tuition fees or cuts to apprenticeships. They should have their voices heard. It is vital to our democracy that no one is denied their right to vote. These figures show that the Government is sitting by and watching thousands of people in Manchester lose their democratic rights.
“Under-registration is already a huge problem in our country – especially amongst younger people. The Government’s decision to rush the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration is likely to reduce levels of registration further.
“The Government is not giving councils enough time to implement the changes and are damaging our democracy. The Government’s own figures show that nationally more than eight million voters risk falling off the register.
“Unlike David Cameron Labour is not prepared to take the same risks. We would take action to improve voting levels by lowering the voting age to 16 and piloting online voting.”
On Thursday 7th May, there will be a UK Parliamentary General Election and local government elections across Manchester and if you’re not registered, you can’t vote – which means you won’t have a say in who represents you.
To register, go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
(The deadline to register to vote in the General Election is Monday 20th April and you’ll need to know your National Insurance number, date of birth and address.)