New funding to boost voter registration

A million pounds still sounds a lot of money to me. Just over four million is a big deal in my books. So, it may seem odd that on hearing that £4.2 million is to be set aside as Funding for new ways to encourage voter registration was a tad disappointed.

£4.2 million divided amongst the 650 constituencies equates to £6462 per constituency. Considering the size of the problem we currently have with under-registration this will not go far at all. Something like three and a half million missing voters are estimated at the moment. Factor in the expectations for Individual Electoral Registration and the doubling of that number is not far-fetched.

I hope I am wrong, but I do see examples of people not being registered very frequently. I have sent out many voter registration forms (and without bias – I do not find out whether the unregistered have Labour tendencies first) and there are clearly discernible patterns. Poverty, ignorance, being transient, and being an incomer to the country form the vast majority of reasons why people are not registered. Disengagement does not feature very often, and so my experience does not suggest that only those that can be bothered to vote do so.

People live busy lives, and despite the bad press that postal voting sometimes attracts, for significant numbers of people this is vital if the voices are to be heard. I have had a postal vote for many years (too many to accurately state, but it must be over two decades). I needed this in the past because I frequently worked away from home. Nowadays I have it for convenience.

The legitimacy of our democracy is challenged by low registration and low turnout. Our mandates, as politicians, appear to be shrinking with the passing of the years. This is not healthy, and whilst I applaud efforts to address registration, I think solutions have to be alive to modern society. In the twenty-first century world of new media we should consider modernising our democracy.

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