With the passing of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013, every British citizen will soon need to register individually (instead of on the current household basis), leading to fears that many voters are disappearing from the electoral roll (see articles linked to below from Alex Stephenson & Toby James).
Yet British overseas voters have always been subject to a form of individual electoral registration and this is already reflected in their traditionally low registration rates.
When Electoral Returning Officers (ERO) currently have little knowledge of the identity or whereabouts of potential overseas voters in their individual constituencies, their capacity, skills or motivation to conduct local data matching work to identify them is questionable. It’s rather similar to the example below of the student population with an estimated fall in registration rates from 100% to 10% (the comparative figure for overseas voters is even lower at an estimated 1%!).
However, as a concerned British citizen not yet excluded by the 15-year-limit, you can now more conveniently help out your local ERO by registering on-line to vote here: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Voters are disappearing from the electoral roll – so why won’t the watchdog act? writes Alex Stephenson in politics.co.uk on 5th December, 2014.
“Labour fears that coalition reforms [involving Individual Electoral Registration (IER)] will effectively disenfranchise millions of people have been rebuffed by the elections watchdog [The Electoral Commission].”
“Shadow constitution minister Stephen Twigg said the watchdog, which is tasked with protecting the way British elections are run, was in danger of doing “too little too late” if it does not act sooner.”
“Early indications suggest registration rates among student populations have dropped from 100% to around ten per cent, while those living in residential homes, like the elderly and the homeless, are also seeing dramatic drops.”
Individual electoral registration still needs a lot of work, if it is not to be a car crash for British democracy, warned Toby James in Democratic Audit UK on 15th July, 2013.
“The passing of the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 means that every citizen will soon need to:
– Register individually – this is currently done on a household basis (except Northern Ireland).
– Provide a national insurance number and date of birth or an alternative form of evidence of their identity.”