Monday, September 26, 2011

Individual Electoral Registration Desk Research Drama

You may have read the Guardian's article on individual registration (IR) earlier this month

"As many as 10 million voters, predominantly poor, young or black, and more liable to vote Labour, could fall off the electoral register under government plans, the Electoral Commission, electoral administrators and psephologists warned"

You may have even read my response, thrown away in passing on a 38 Degrees discusssion

" [...] the issue is not IR ... but how it's been proposed to be done here."

"What are the proposals to mitigate and reverse the drop off if we switch to IR?"

"A botched and/or politically motivated switch to IR could be worse than the current system. It would need to be done well and in a non-partisan way, if it were done at all."

The Electoral Commission have also just put out the following statement:

'We support the introduction of IER [individual electoral registration] as an important improvement in how people register to vote. It was initially proposed by the previous government and we are pleased that the current government has produced a White Paper on its introduction. We welcome the current debate on the issue and the opportunity for pre-legislative scrutiny to ensure IER is introduced in the best way possible.

'We believe IER can be introduced in a way to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the electoral register is improved. We have however highlighted to Government and Parliament our concern that if the opt-out from registration currently proposed is introduced registration could drop towards election turn-out levels.'

Earlier this week, I went looking for some reasoned perspectives on IR and found the Electoral Reform Society, the Open Rights Group and Unlock Democracy. I'll have a look at these and the White Paper and then report back with Tim's take on IR, take two.

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