More than one-third of young Londoners have “fallen off” the electoral register in the past 12 months and so won’t be able to vote in tomorrow’s London elections, according to research published today.
In some of the most deprived areas of the capital, the researchers claim that as many as 7 in 10 under-24s have lost their right to vote, and so won’t get a say in next month’s European referendum, either.
Thes figures suggest that more than half a million people will be denied their democratic rights at the polling booths when it comes to choosing a Mayor of London and the members of the London Assembly for the next four years.
Changes in the voting registration system were introduced a year ago by “Dodgy Dave” Cameron’s Conservative Government. Judging by the results of the research, the Tories have got the desired effect.
Of the candidates to be London Mayor, Sian Berry, of the Greens, LibDem Caroline Pidgeon and Labour’s Sadiq Khan have all backed a pledge to address the capital’s democratic deficit. The Old Etonian heir to a multi-million-pound fortune who is the Conservative candidate for Mayor, meanwhile, has been silent on the matter.
With older generations more likely to vote, and many of them more likely to vote Tory, this trend may have an important impact on election outcomes not only in the next 48 hours, but in coming years, too.
In some inner city boroughs, there is 70 per cent fewer on the electoral register compared to 12 months ago (the data was collated from 31 electoral services in London and compared against the state of the register in February/March 2014).
Don’t Get Frozen Out and the charity Hope Not Hate is urging whoever takes over at City Hall on Friday to address the growing democracy crisis in London.
Their survey work suggests that the high price of property in the capital is an important factor in young Londoners in whether they are able to retain their democratic right to a vote: 26 per cent of young renters told researchers stated that the democratic process does not suit their on-the-move lifestyle.
Campaigners argue that the current model for democratic participation needs to cater more effectively for the way many people live, including young people, students and private renters, to ensure they don’t unnecessarily drop off the register.
The campaigners are calling on more funding from the Cabinet Office for electoral services in London, and for better online and digital engagement of all voters, including a website so people can check their voter registration status.
“We’re asking the future Mayor to really dig into the issue of democracy, and support our plan on behalf of Londoners, to ensure we can all have an equal say over the decisions that affect our capital,” said Ed Shepherd, the social mission manager at Ben & Jerry’s (yep, they have one of those).
Nick Lowles, the chief executive of Hope Not Hate, said: “We’ve seen that democracy is currently not reaching young people, and we’re in danger of having a lost generation, not only due to voter registrations changes, but also a fractured democratic process. A properly functioning democracy is crucial to the future prosperity of the city.”
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