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Electoral Commission Committee

Volume 594: debated on Thursday 12 March 2015

The hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, was asked—

Online Voter Registration (Young and Student Voters)

9. What assessment the Electoral Commission has made of the effect of online registration on young and student voters. (908045)

The Electoral Commission informs me that 18 to 24-year-olds are the second most active age group in making use of the online registration system, comprising about a quarter of all applications. Research conducted by YouGov for the Electoral Commission in January showed that 53% of 18 to 24-year-olds are still unaware that they can register to vote online. The commission is working with a wide range of organisations to encourage young people to register to vote and to raise awareness of how easy it is to do so online.

I am very concerned that, on 1 December, the electoral register appeared to have reduced by 900,000. Is my right hon. Friend aware that party-branded material is being circulated in schools to encourage 18-year-olds to register to vote? What can be done to ensure that there is political balance with young voters?

Since 1 December, more than 2 million applications to register to vote have been made, so it is almost certain that the numbers will be rebalanced by the time we get to 7 May.

The Electoral Commission is about to launch, on Monday, its TV awareness campaign, which I know the hon. Lady will support, to drive home the message that if you do not register, you cannot vote. The Electoral Commission is working with a number of organisations to make sure that this message has been put across to young people.