SHOCKING figures reveal today that more than 10,000 people have dropped off the electoral register in the Wigan borough in a year.
The register is crucial in allowing people to vote, but it also forms the basis of boundary reviews, is the list from which juries are drawn and being on it is fundamental for securing mortgages and credit.
As the system of registering to vote moves to the new Individual Electoral Registration (IER) system, concerns have regularly been raised about the pace of change and the Government’s complacency at the missing millions from the register.
Even before the move to IER began, 7.5 million eligible voters weren’t on the register. The Electoral Commission’s own recent report warns that a further 5.5 million are at risk of dropping off because of IER.
Analysis by the Electoral Commission suggests that private renters, young people and students were the least likely to be transferred automatically to the new registers.
Figures obtained from Wigan Council reveal that 10,488 people have dropped off the register in the three principal parliamentary constituencies. Breakdown by constituency is as follows;
Andy Burnham, Yvonne Fovargue and Lisa Nandy, the MPs for Leigh, Makerfield and Wigan respectively say this is an issue which affects all parties, have called on the Government to change the system and jointly encouraged all residents to register to vote at: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Mr Burnham said: “These figures raise fundamental questions about the health of our democracy.
“It is already a civic duty to register to vote. Failure to register when invited to do so can lead to a fine.
“But the time has now have come to think differently about voter registration.
“Government departments have enormous amounts of data about us at their disposal.
“Surely it is possible to have a system in place where people are automatically placed on the register on the basis of being on council tax lists, housing benefit databases or having applied for a passport or driving licence?”
Ms Fovargue said: “In the longer term we will need to think radically, but we also need to desperately do all we can to get people registered in the short term.
“An election fought on a register depleted of voters lacks legitimacy.
“The full weight of the government, councils and all of us who care about a healthy democracy needs to be thrown behind getting as many people on the register by next May.”
Ms Nandy said: “Many people in Wigan do not realise they’re at risk of losing their vote and their voice as we approach the most important General Election in a generation.
“It’s worth taking a little bit of time now to register, not just so you can vote, but because it can also help with getting a mortgage and accessing credit.”