A new system of individual voter registration is being introduced in 2014.
Individual voter registration is supported by all the main parties and will make it much easier to prevent voting fraud. And, following a successful campaign by Unlock Democracy and other democratic reform groups, we've managed to dissuade the government from introducing it in such a way that would have meant as many as 10 million people excluded from the political process.
But it is still a major change to the way we register people to vote, and it will take a while to get the system working efficiently. This was the experience in Northern Ireland when individual electoral registration was introduced there.
This is likely to have a big impact on the next constituency boundary review, which under new rules is slated to take place after the next general election in 2015.
The new rules agreed by parliament last year mean that constituency boundaries are based almost exclusively on the number of people registered to vote in a constituency: they don’t take account of general population figures, geographic factors, historical boundaries or the fact that urban areas tend to have more mobile populations. They are currently in the middle of a boundary review – and the new rules mean that from now on one must be held immediately after the next election.
The short term impact of introducing the new registration system will be a particular problem in urban areas because the population tends to be more mobile (a factor which affects young people, members of ethnic minorities and people from lower socio-economic groups in particular). Basing the next boundary review on what we know will be extremely flawed and incomplete data, is irresponsible and will have a long term impact on our representation in the House of Commons.
So please take the time to write to your MP today and ask them to put pressure on the government to abandon the 2015 boundary review. We saw from our previous campaign on registration that public pressure can force the government to change its mind; with your help we can persuade them to reverse this decision as well.
UK government data provided by GovEval