Labour considers automatic voter registration to boost election turnouts

Posted On: 
12th April 2019

A Labour government could introduce automatic voter registration as a way of boosting turnout at elections, the party has said.

Jeremy Corbyn outside a polling station.
Credit: 
PA Images

Cat Smith, the shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs, said millions of eligible people were still not on the register, particularly those in "mobile, marginalised and vulnerable voter groups".

At the moment, those of voting age must actively register their details with the authorities in order to take part in elections.

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But under Labour's plan, that would be done automatically as soon as they reached the voting age of 18.

Ms Smith said: "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."

Under the Labour plan, people could be placed on the register when they are issued with a National Insurance number. For people already over 16, data held by government departments like HMRC and the DVLA could be used for the same purpose.

Countries which already register their citizens to vote automatically include Canada, Australia, Denmark and Germany.

Claire Bassett, chief executive to the Electoral Commission, has previously spoken warmly about automatically placing people on the voters' roll.

She said: "We believe that more automatic registration processes would greatly improve the system, with voters being added to the register after providing their details to other government services.

"A key example would be the automatic registration of young people when they are issued with a National Insurance number, helping to address historic under-registration of this age group."

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "This government has made significant reforms to the electoral registration system, which supported a record number of people registering to vote ahead of the last general election.

"It is now easier than ever to register to vote - it takes just five minutes and the accuracy of the register has increased to 91%. The current system also dramatically reduces the risk of electoral fraud."