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Voter Registration and Participation

Volume 659: debated on Thursday 9 May 2019

While the commission’s remit does not include increasing participation in elections, it has an important duty to promote awareness of elections. The commission’s campaign for this year’s local elections saw over 570,000 applications, exceeding its target by 36%. Its campaign relating to the European parliamentary elections ended on Tuesday, and it saw a further 539,206 people apply to register. The commission also works to make improvements to the registration system itself. It is supporting the UK Government in their work to reform the canvass, and later this year it will publish the findings of feasibility studies examining how publicly held data could be used to improve the registration system.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, but does she agree that we have seen a serious decline in registration activity? The number of young people registering in time for the Euro elections has been pitiful. The fact of the matter is that we can go digital and do all that stuff, but it used to be about knocking on someone’s door and checking that they were on the register, and that is what really worked.

My hon. Friend will know that the commission wants as many people as possible to be registered to vote and able to participate in our democracy, but he is right to point out that young people are far less likely to register to vote than others. I will make sure that the commission is aware of his concerns and takes account of what he said as its research work continues in this area.

Can the hon. Lady outline any discussions that have taken place regarding the ability to vote online and any security advice that has been sought with regard to that proposal?

I am not able to provide any recent updates, but I will ensure that the Electoral Commission contacts the hon. Gentleman to discuss his interest in that area.