Westminster democracy in crisis: How the vote is in danger and how you can register for #GE17


Millions of UK voters have just hours to register to vote on 8 June

THE UK is approaching the 23:59pm deadline (Monday 22 May) for registering to vote in the General Election on 8 June.

The election is being dominated by constitutional, economic, social issues against the backdrop of Brexit and a Scottish Parliament vote for a second independence referendum.

But it is also embroiled in concerns over the health of UK democracy, and millions across the country will miss out on the chance to vote, either because they have been excluded or they simply haven’t registered.

CommonSpace looks at the democratic crisis in the UK, and provides last minute information on how you can register to vote in the General Election.

The democratic deficit

Recent years have seen a slew of controversies and conflicts over the condition of UK democracy, including various government schemes opposition parties warn are about remodeling the electorate in the Tories’ favoured image.

First past the post: The UK political system is one of the most centralised in the voting world, and this is in large part down to the way we choose our government.

The First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system, which sees MPs elected from roughly equal size constituencies by a simple majority is criticised by opponents who say it has entrenched a two party system and means that the majority of ballots cast don’t go towards the make-up of the parliament.

In their manifesto launch tomorrow the SNP will call for FPP to be replaced with a Single Transferable Vote (STV) system that would create a parliament more reflective of the numbers of votes cast for each candidate.

Boundary changes: The boundaries between constituencies can be changed by boundary commissions. The changes slated for an election in 2020 would reduce the number of seats across the UK (including in Scotland) and have been accused by Labour of benefiting the Conservatives.

Changes to the ways voters register: Between December 2015 and May 2016 a further 1.4 million voters were removed from the electoral register by the implementation of Individual Electoral Registration (IER), poorer and first time voters are the most effected by a change opposition parties claim was designed to reduce the votes of the left.

Voter ID: The Conservative Manifesto includes a policy for people to have to present photo identification at polling stations to be able to vote.

This measure will not come into effect in this election, but would follow from a Tory victory.

Campaigners in group’s like the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) warn that where photo Id has been used, groups of younger, poorer and more marginalised voters are less likely to vote.

Lack of political engagement: Whilst these are all problems facing the UK democratic system, in reality the democratic deficit effects most countries to one degree or another. Around the world, voters are shunning the political system in their millions out of a feeling that politicians can’t represent their interests.

But in the UK the problem is acute, with percentages of the eligible population actually voting sliding from 83.9 per cent in the 1950 General Election to just 59.4 per cent in 2001, before recovering slightly to 66.4 per cent in 2015.

How you can register to vote in the General Election

Against this backdrop, two million people have registered to vote in just a month since the prime minister announced the General Election.

But around seven million remain unregistered, including 30 per cent of voters under 35.

You have until 23:59pm tonight (Monday 22 May) to register to vote in the General Election.

The process is simple and can been done through the official government page here

Picture courtesy of worldoflard

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