It is ironic that at the same time the film “Suffragette” is in cinemas we are facing perhaps the biggest disenfranchisement in our history. The Government is planning to bring forward plans for Individual Electoral Registration by 12 months, against the advice of the independent Electoral Commission. The effect is likely to be that a million people will disappear from the electoral register, on top of the estimated million already missing.
We support Individual Electoral Registration, and legislated for it, but we also recognise the huge challenge it poses. Some local authorities, whose responsibility it is to maintain registers, have coped well with the challenge so far, including our own here in North Tyneside, but there’s still work to be done.
Any government should encourage people to register to vote. Without registering you can’t have your say in the election of an MP, a Councillor, a Mayor, an MEP, or a Police and Crime Commissioner. Nor can you vote in the forthcoming Referendum on our membership of the European Union, a decision which will have a huge impact on our future as a country.
Even if you don’t intend to vote, not being on the electoral register could make getting a bank card or a mobile phone contract much harder, or you could face a £80 fine for not registering.
You’ll need your NI number to register to vote. Registering takes less than three minutes by going to gov.uk/register-to-vote. Don’t lose your voice!