Here’s how many people the Tories have stopped from voting today

IER is disenfranchising thousands

Hundreds of voters may have been turned away from polling stations in Barnet on Thursday – but across the UK, hundreds of thousands of people have been disenfranchised en masse by the government. And the majority of them are Labour voters.

As voters across the UK headed to their polling stations on Thursday 5 May, many may not have been aware that they had been kicked off the electoral roll since the 2015 general election. But 770,000 names – disproportionately likely to be Labour voters – were deleted from the electoral register overnight on 1 December 2015.

Here’s how it happened.

In 2009, New Labour published plans to move to ‘Individual Electoral Registration’ (IER). Under the new system, each person would be required to register themselves to vote, rather than being registered by the head of their household. Under Labour’s plans, IER would be introduced “from 2015 at the earliest”.

The coalition government brought the voting changes forward. It began the transition in 2014, and rushed it through in just one year – against the advice of the Electoral Commission and others who warned that it would take two years to transfer voters to the new system.

Will Brett, head of campaigns and communications at the Electoral Reform Society, says:

By moving to the new system in 2014 instead of 2015 as we recommended, hundreds of thousands of names dropped off the register.

Read on...

In fact, a comparison of the electoral register before and after the introduction of IER shows that there were 1.4 million fewer names on the register after it had been introduced – although it is impossible to know how many of those voters have since signed up again.

What we do know, thanks to the House of Commons library is that, in some constituencies, nearly half of those eligible to vote are no longer registered – and the majority of those who have lost their votes are in Labour areas.

Labour voters have been disproportionately affected because they are typically younger and more likely to rent their homes than Conservative voters – exactly the demographics that the Electoral Commission says are less likely to be registered. In fact, since IER has been introduced, there has been a staggering 40% drop in registrations for ‘attainers’ (young people who will soon reach voting age). The levels of registration in most student residences meanwhile have plummeted from 100% to less than 10%.

And as the young and the renters are losing their voices, the homeowning vote has come to dominate in parts of the country.

The right to vote for all was hard-won. Now it is being undermined in what Hope not Hate has called “the biggest single act of electoral disenfranchisement in our history”. Seen in the context of other Conservative attacks on our democratic process – from a boundary review that could lock Labour out of power for a generation to allegations that dozens of Conservative MPs broke the law to win the 2015 general election – the government’s aim is clear. It wants to keep power, whatever the cost to our democracy.

Get involved!

– If you couldn’t vote today, make sure you register to vote before the 7 June deadline for the EU referendum.

Support The Canary so we can keep holding the government to account.

Featured image via Philip Halling/Geograph.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed