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Register voters automatically says Labour

17/04/15

Party says councils could use existing data to provide an 'effort-free process'

Town halls would be able to use a range of data to automatically register missing voters, under Labour Party plans unveiled by its constitutional affairs spokesman Sadiq Khan.

Sadiq KhanHe said they would involve people being added to the voting rolls without having to fill in a form or go online to register. Instead, local authorities could use data including their own records, driving licences, vehicle registration data, school or college rolls and HMRC records to manage the registration.

Civil servants would be asked to work up the plans within weeks of the general election if Labour takes office, Khan said. However, only people who achieve a "minimum threshold" would be added to the register - and anyone who wants to stay off the rolls could ask to be removed.

Overhaul

Khan said: "If Labour wins in May, we'll overhaul the way people register to vote in a generation.

"If the government is confident enough to give people a driving licence, or tax them, then it shouldn't be rocket science to sign them up to vote too. If implemented, this would make registering to vote an effort-free process for millions of people."

He spoke after the publication of Labour's manifesto, which vowed to ensure individual electoral registration (IER) "does not leave millions unregistered, nor lead to constituencies that fail to take into account the people who live in them".

Measures would include block registration by universities and care homes, as well as "exploring the scope for an automatic system of registration".

Voters disappear

The announcement came ahead of fresh figures revealing that more than 800,000 voters have disappeared from the rolls since IER was introduced, in June last year. While no one will lose their right to vote next month, the Electoral Commission has expressed fears that home-movers, students and attainers - those reaching 18 by polling day - are not registering in the first place.

In February, the Commission warned it is "highly unlikely" to recommend adopting the voting rolls collected for IER this year, as the coalition government has hoped. It found that electoral registration officers (EROs) at local councils are continuing to run into problems with their electoral management software systems.

The Commission's report, due in June, will determine whether the IER rolls will be adopted from December this year or not until December 2016.

Pictured: Sadiq Khan, from National Archives, Open Government Licence v1.0

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