Young people are facing a “voter registration time bomb”, according to analysis by the Electoral Reform #Society, whose analysis shows the number of school leavers on the electoral roll has dropped by more than a quarter in three years.
The society, which campaigns on access to democracy, said parties needed to step up their game to register young people, who are more likely to fall off the electoral roll after the introduction of individual electoral registration in 2014.
That change saw a shift from a single person, usually a parent, registering everyone in the household on their behalf to each voter having to register individually. Universities can also no longer automatically register students.
Crucially, the system has seen a sharp decline in the number of so-called attainers, 16- and 17-year-olds listed on the register so that they automatically receive voting rights when they turn 18. In Scotland, the number of attainers has dropped by more than a third since 2014 and by more than a quarter in England.
In Westmorland and Lonsdale, the constituency held by the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, the number of attainers on the register has dropped by 75% over three years. Others with high fall rates included Hackney South and Shoreditch, held by Labour MP Meg Hillier, and Conservative MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency.
Many of the areas that have seen the biggest drop have large black and minority ethnic #communities, such as the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency. The ERS said it may be a sign that already marginalised groups have not re-registered since their parents or guardians stopped signing them up on their behalf.