Democratic engagement programme

Updated 11 October 2013

The democratic engagement programme aims to bring on board community groups and others to help motivate, inform and engage people in their communities who are not on the electoral register - in particular, groups that are under-represented in the electoral process.

1. A voice for everyone

Many people say they want to be more involved in and influence the decisions that make an impact on their day-to-day lives, whether taken by the government or by their local council.

Research has shown that certain groups, including young people aged 16 to 24 and people in social housing are less likely to be on the electoral roll, and action needs to be taken to involve these groups.

2. New ways to engage communities

Organisations, neighbourhoods and communities can provide valuable insight and experience of working directly with groups under-represented in our electoral process.

Involving young people and those in marginalised groups in our democratic process helps empower them and in turn they can use their voice to bring about change in their local communities.

A number of initiatives to improve democratic engagement have been announced by ministers and will begin work this autumn. These aim to test innovative and creative approaches to reaching under-represented groups on the electoral register in the run-up to Individual Electoral Registration in March 2014. The projects are:

  • the Democratic Engagement Innovation Fund - voluntary and community groups and smaller businesses have put forward innovative ideas to improve engagement with the democratic process and these ideas will be tested over the coming year.
  • Rock Enrol! youth engagement - organisations with experience of working with schools and young people will deliver the Rock Enrol! lesson framework to 16- and 17-year olds in areas with lower levels of registration for this age group. Cabinet Office developed the lesson framework with the youth-led organisation Bite the Ballot.

3. Engaging with young people

Schools, colleges and youth groups are a great place to emphasise the importance to young people of being part of the electoral process. A lesson framework called Rock Enrol! is available and has been successfully introduced in a number of schools. It fits well with the citizenship curriculum, but it is also designed to be used in a wide range of environments.

This resource is aimed at inspiring young people to discuss and debate what they care about, whilst considering why they should register to vote. Rock Enrol! includes a lesson outline, engaging activities, reasons to register to vote and supporting guidance.

4. Find out more

For further information about the democratic engagement programme, please contact

Electoral Registration Officers have already been contacted by the Cabinet Office with the offer of funding to run a targeted canvass or to support other schemes to increase the rate of voter registration in their area. Applications for the funds will be considered until 1 December 2014. If you would like more information about the schemes, please contact

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