Scandal that could leave 10% in Slough without a vote today
Over 10% of residents in Slough could fall off the electoral register today, the first to be compiled since new rules were imposed by the Government. But in Colnbrook, Cippenham, Elliman, Chalvey and Central the figure could be far higher. Staggeringly, neither of our local councils is doing anything to tackle the problem.
The Council has been pushing residents into submitting updates to the electoral register before an imminent deadline today, but the indication is that millions will be left off the new register nationally due to changes in the way it is compiled – and some wards, including Colnbrook, fare particularly badly.
The conversion to individual rather than household voter registration has been ongoing for the last couple of years but if you have not been confirmed on the new register by today you may be left off.
The problem has been caused by the Government bringing forward the deadline for transition to the new system by one year to December 31 2015. In June the Electoral Commission produced a report on conversion that recommended a full further year would be needed to complete the changes, in view of a decrease in registrations (as at May) of a staggering 1.9 million voters.
ACT NOW! The deadline for completing the form is Monday 23 November 2015. Slough botched the first set of forms that were sent out but it has sent some reminders. If you haven't received a form you can still register online via the Government portal at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote, or by post. You may be fined up to £1,000 and face a criminal record if you don't reply. If you have any questions or concerns you can call the Slough Elections Office on 01753 477235.
The Electoral Reform Society has been running a Missing Millions campaign to persuade the Government to slow down implementation of the changes.
The old system of household registrations, which had remained in place since the Victorian-era system of voting based on property rights, has been described as an ‘open door’ to fraud. In January last year Slough was listed among the sixteen blackspots for voting fraud and the UK remained only Western democracy still using household registration.
While Slough has sent out reminder forms it has failed to do anything to address the scale of the disenfranchisement set to occur. Nor has Colnbrook Parish Council which uses the same electoral roll.
With 4% of the electoral register nationally unconfirmed there are fears that those urban areas with the largest numbers missing will lose out when seats are redistributed. The last (aborted) Boundary Commission redistribution was based on electoral data produced under the old system. The missing voters will invariably mean a redistribution away from urban areas with high-density housing and multiple occupancy to suburban and rural areas.
Young people, renters, ethnic minorities and students are expected to lose out while older and retired people and home-owners are likely to end up being over-represented.