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Voter Registration

Volume 527: debated on Thursday 12 May 2011

3. What steps the Electoral Commission is taking to increase voter registration among hard-to-reach groups. (55123)

The commission’s public information campaigns are targeted at groups that are less likely to be on the electoral register. The commission also sets standards for electoral registration officers, provides them with guidance and materials to increase electoral registration, and provides targeted support where underperformance is found. The commission has recently announced that it will take specific steps with the 45 electoral registration officers in Great Britain who have not met the standards for a number of years.

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the reasons for low voting numbers is lack of literacy and people being unable to read the forms? In my constituency, we have problems with literacy. What is he doing to increase the powers of the Electoral Commission to help those with literacy problems so that they can register to vote?

My hon. Friend is right to raise the problems confronting those with literacy challenges. The Electoral Commission uses a number of media, including radio and TV, in its targeted campaigning to do its best to reach everyone. It also produces a range of information in an easy-read format, which can be found on its website, but following my hon. Friend’s interest in this important matter I will certainly speak to the Electoral Commission to see what more can be done.

Can I raise a matter very dear to your heart, Mr Speaker, about how we involve more people in the work of Parliament through electoral registration? Will the hon. Gentleman look at the ways in which some pilot funding could be secured to assist those in the parish and town councils of Kidsgrove in my constituency with setting up a youth parliament in order to make young people aware of how our parliamentary democracy and electoral system work?

The Electoral Commission is very keen to increase electoral registration and engagement in democracy. I will certainly take forward the hon. Lady’s very interesting suggestion to the commission, and we will write to her with what I hope will be a positive response.