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Individual Voter Registration

Volume 559: debated on Thursday 7 March 2013

1. What support the Electoral Commission is offering to parliamentary constituencies with a high proportion of ethnic minority voters to assist with individual registration. (146565)

The Electoral Commission will provide guidance and support to electoral registration officers on how best to ensure that people are registered under the new system. The guidance will advise on how best to reach those who are least likely to be registered or to respond to the change, including certain black and minority ethnic groups. Electoral registration officers should use their knowledge of the local community to ensure that they do that as effectively as possible. The Electoral Commission will also run a public awareness campaign targeted at those groups during the transition.

I think that we need more than that. The data-matching pilots, the evaluation of which was published in December, revealed that in Tower Hamlets, data matching connected with only 55% of voters, whereas in Wigan the figure was over 80%. We know that the mismatch between the registration of ethnic minority eligible voters and white eligible voters is about 10%. Therefore, should the Electoral Commission not work with electoral registration officers in areas with large ethnic minority communities to look at new methods and resources that could ensure that individual registration works for all of us?

The hon. Lady raises an important point. The Electoral Commission is working with electoral registration officers, particularly in areas where there are hard-to-reach groups. However, electoral registration officers should rely on their own local experience and expertise to get the job done. It might help the hon. Lady to know that data matching is expected to ensure that 70% of people across the country will transfer automatically to the new register. As I have said before, anyone who is on the register in 2014 will be transferred automatically to the May 2015 register.