As we approach this landmark General Election, today’s Electoral Commission Report Completeness and accuracy of electoral registers in Great Britain found that non-registration for voting is higher among certain groups, particularly young people aged 17-24 years old (56 per cent not registered) and people from black and minority ethnic communities (31 per cent not registered). Changing address is a key reason for non-registration – just 21 per cent of those living at their present address for a year or less are registered to vote. Millions of people could be falling off the register if they move house between annual canvasses. As a result, the rate of completeness of the register may fall by around 10 percentage points between canvasses. I think this highlights the need to put the duty to register on the individual and to do more to encourage youngsters and those from bme communities to register. It is often argued that 16 year olds should have the vote, but the experience of the group immediately ahead of them in age is not encouraging. Plenty of young people are interested in political issues, but they seem to be willing to let their parents decide what actually happens. We felt almost exactly the opposite when I was young. We wanted to vote to achieve change. It is time for the voice of our young people to be heard. They must register and have their say.
Registering to vote