We should have a system of automatic electoral registration in Britain to combat the crisis of millions of people missing off the electoral roll. That was one of our core messages last week when we sent a report on elections in Britain to the government.
Most polling stations turned away would be voters at the 2015 general election, research from Alistair Clark and I showed. On Radio 4’s Today Programme and Radio Norfolk I explained that many citizens think that they are on the register because they pay their council tax, renew their car tax and register for other government services. But unlike many other countries, they still need to do more to register to vote.
Earlier this week John Penrose said that he is considering a form of automatic re-regstration. This is excellent news for democracy.
I flagged the problem of low levels of voter registration and how individual voter registration would worsen this in a report to Parliament in 2011. I have long argued that using methods used in other countries such as registering citizens when they use other government services would improve registration levels and turnout. This was based on my book and an article on electoral administration.
John Penrose’s announcement is therefore very welcome news but there is a more to be done. Automatic re-registration stops names dropping off and might save local authorities time and resources. But what of those not currently ln the register? Upto 10 million could be missing from the register in December. And that is the register on which the boundaries for the 2020 general election will be fought.