Labour considers automatic voter registration to add millions to electoral roll

All British adults could be automatically registered to vote under radical plans being considered by Jeremy Corbyn‘s Labour Party. 

The move could see around seven million voters being added to the electoral register, with huge numbers of young and low income individuals automatically enrolled for the first time.

Mr Corbyn’s party believes the current system of individual registration has so far failed to give a voice to huge swathes of the UK public, and Labour will now examine various models around the world.

According to the most up-to-date analysis by the Electoral Commission, between 7.6 and 8.3 million eligible people were not correctly registered to vote across Great Britain in 2015, including one in three under the age of 34.

Coinciding with today’s voter registration deadline for next month’s local elections, Labour told The Independent it is considering adopting automatic voter registration as party policy. 

During the 2017 general election campaign, the commission estimated that over 220,000 individuals applied to register after the deadline, and returning officers reported 10,500 people attempted to vote despite not being registered.

Cat Smith, the shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs, said that the Individual Electoral Registration (IEA) system “had not achieved what we were told it would”.

The IEA system replaced the old registration scheme in 2014 and placed the onus on individuals, rather than one person in every household, to register online.

Ms Smith added: “Millions of people are still missing from the register, with disproportionately low levels of registration amongst mobile, marginalised and vulnerable voter groups.

“There are many successful examples around the world of automatic voter registration systems, so we are examining the use of government data to automatically place people on the electoral roll.

“We are committed to drastically increasing voter registration to ensure every eligible voter can have their say.”

Labour said it will now examine using government data to automatically place people on the electoral register, including when people are issued with a national insurance number, or information available from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) database.

As it considers the policy, the party added it will also investigate similar systems implemented around the world, including those in Canada, Denmark and Germany. 

The National Register of Electors in Canada was set up in 1997 and nearly 94 per cent of all eligible voters are included on the register, which includes an opt-out system. 

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