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Electoral Register: Ethnic Groups

Volume 488: debated on Tuesday 24 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the percentage of (a) white, (b) African, (c) Bangladeshi, (d) Pakistani and (e) African-Caribbean people eligible to vote who are registered to vote. (257486)

As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice) explained in answer to a similar question from the hon. Gentleman on 21 July 2008, Official Report, column 900W, the Government have not made any estimate of the percentage of (a) White, (b) African, (c) Bangladeshi, (d) Pakistani and (e) African-Caribbean people registered to vote. In addition, it is not known what percentage of eligible people from these groups are registered to vote, as such information is not available.

The Electoral Commission found in their report, ‘Understanding Electoral Registration’, published in September 2005, that the groups least likely to be registered to vote included young people, those residing in private rented accommodation and those belonging to certain minority ethnic groups. Registration rates among White, Asian (those from Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities) and Black Caribbean groups were similar.

Section 9 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 placed a new duty on electoral registration officers (ERO) to take all necessary steps to register eligible electors. These steps include sending the annual canvass form more than once, making house to house enquiries and inspecting records that the ERO is permitted to inspect. The Government believe that these steps should help to tackle under-registration.