Voting is our democratic right and we want to make sure that everyone who is entitled to vote is able to vote. Individual Electoral Registration (IER) gives everyone who is eligible to vote control over their registration. The new online application process means it’s no more difficult to register to vote than to shop online and provides a secure, convenient, and modern way of doing so in as little as 3 minutes.
1. Why has the system been changed?
The electoral register has been around since 1832. The old system required a ‘head of household’ to submit an application on behalf of all those resident at an address – an outdated concept not recognised by many in today’s world. Some groups have traditionally been under-registered, with just under half of those in social housing or those aged 18 to 24 currently not on the register. Those in shared housing, for example, might not even realise a form has been delivered to their home. Because we are now targeting people individually, everybody will be contacted directly, which will help maximise the number of people on the register.
There has also been a perception of fraud taking place, and although the number of cases of reported fraud is actually very low, any weaknesses in the electoral system could undermine confidence. This is evidenced by Electoral Commission statistics which show that, in 2013, 34% of people believed that fraud in elections was a problem.
The new register will be more accurate and we can verify that everyone on the register is who they say they are. This will ensure that there is greater trust in the legitimacy and fairness of our elections.
2. Getting on the register
You can now register to vote online in as little as 3 minutes! All you need is your name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number – register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
The transition to IER began in June 2014 in England and Wales and September in Scotland, following the Independence Referendum. During the transition almost 9 in 10 of those already on the register were automatically added to the new register. Those people who were not successfully matched have been invited to register in writing, sent reminders and canvassed in person to encourage them to register to vote.
The government is committed to reaching under-registered groups. In 2014 we distributed £4.2 million of funding amongst all local authorities and 5 national organisations to maximise voter registration. In January 2015, almost £10 million of additional funding was given to local authorities and national organisations to boost voter registration activities, particularly focusing on areas where registration rates are lower.
No existing elector will be removed from the registers ahead of the 2015 General Election as a result of the move to IER.
3. Why register?
If you’re not on the register, you can’t vote – it’s as simple as that. You will have no say in who runs the country or how it is run.
By registering to vote you are playing your role as a British citizen and joining the vast majority of people who are already registered to vote in this country.
Previous generations have campaigned, fought and died to preserve and improve our democracy; don’t lose your right to vote – register to vote today!