Number of new young voters falls by 40% after implementation of individual registration


Scottish electorate has shrivelled by 2 per cent amid loss of 1.4 million voters across the UK

CONCERNS have been raised over the impact of Individual Electoral Registration (IER), after new figures show that the numbers of new young voters making it onto the UK electoral register have fallen by 40 per cent.

The controversial new IER system has removed many of the traditional ways ‘attainers’ – young people who have come into the threshold voting age of 18 – have been registered, such as through their schools or households.

Electoral reform campaigners have warned from the outset of the introduction of the Conservative government’s IER scheme that the alienation of certain voting groups, including poorer citizens and young people, was likely should the policy be introduced.

Quoted in the Herald Willie Sullivan, Scottish Director of Electoral Reform Society (ERS), said: “Even though young people today are the most connected generation in history, they’re also the generation that is most disconnected from politics. They are either cut off from, don’t value or aren’t participating in political processes. But can we blame them?

Some estimates now put the numbers not registered to vote as high as nine million.

“To combat this, it’s vital that young people’s voices are heard and that their priorities are understood – and acted on. But we need a much bigger focus on democracy in our schools if we’re going to develop citizens who are engaged from the very start of their adult lives.

“We should constantly be asking what we can do to improve the way citizenship is developed in Scotland. With the lowering of the voting age in Scotland to 16, first for the referendum on independence and subsequently for elections to Holyrood, now is the time to foster a generation of informed, equipped and active young citizens.”

Electoral reform groups including the ERS and Bite the Ballot are calling on voter registration to be involved in schools curriculums.

The IER system was introduced on 1 December 2015, and will see people individually registering to vote, a break from the tradition of registration by household. It is estimated that 1.4 million voters have been removed from the electoral register.

Some estimates now put the numbers not registered to vote as high as nine million.

CommonSpace reported in February that 139,000 Scots voters had fallen off UK electoral registers in 2015 .

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Picture courtesy of worldoflard