On 1 December changes in the way voters are registered in the UK will finally come into effect.
It’s estimated that, nationally, the changes will mean the loss of a million or more voters. That’s in addition to those already missing from the electoral register. We reckon that, here in Leeds, the overall number of missing voters on 1 December could be as high as 100,000 or more – that’s the equivalent of a full constituency the city stands to lose!
Does that matter?
Well, it’s scarcely democratic to have such a large proportion of the potential electorate disenfranchised.
But it matters even more than that in 2015.
The Tories will redraw the boundaries of all Parliamentary constituencies and reduce the number of MPs on the basis of the 1 December 2015 register.
So a city like Leeds could lose the equivalent of an MP as a result of under-registration.
And, as you’ll see from the detailed figures below, the missing voters are far from equally spread. The crisis in democracy and registration – and we don’t hesitate to call it that – is greatest in many of the poorest areas of the city, where there are high numbers of private-renting tenants and shifting populations with fast turn-over.
It’s least in the stable, leafy [Tory-voting] suburbs. In general, the closer to the inner city, the bigger the problem – though there are pockets of serious under-registration elsewhere,too.
The Government’s own electoral watch-dog, the Electoral Commission, has criticised what’s happening – and called for the Tories to hold back the changes until late 2016.
But the Tories have used their slim majority at Westminster to railroad these changes through Parliament.
The situation was bad enough before Individual Electoral Registration. But the Tories’ changes, and, especially, the speed with which they’ve chosen to implement them, have made it much worse.
There’s now only one way to stop this Tory gerry-mandering – voter registration, and fast.
If you’ve not registered – do it NOW.
It’s simple – do it here onlinehttps://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
We in the Labour party have been working across the city and its constituencies to maximise registration – irrespective of which party potential voters support.
You can do your bit, too.
Spread the word. Share this post on Facebook and Twitter.
Whoever that missing 100,000 would vote for, they should be part of our democracy.
Our city cannot afford to see its clout at Westminster reduced in this way.
There are now only days left to ensure we are all on the register, and all equally represented.
LET’S GET THAT MISSING 100,000 ON THE REGISTER NOW.
THE FULL STORY
Why is electoral registration changing?
A few years ago, one person could register an entire household, and the colleges and universities would register all their students in one go. Although convenient, this arrangement was susceptible to fraud and identity theft. Nowadays the system has changed. Everybody must register in person, and supply their address, date of birth and national insurance number. This is known as Individual Electoral Registration, or IER.
Why are a million existing voters being deleted from the register?
The original plan was to have a transition period, when existing voters would be included in the register even though they had not yet supplied all the personal details that the government now requires. This has now been changed by the present Tory government, which has brought the new system forward, one year early, before everybody was ready for it.
Does this mean that people will lose their vote?
Not necessarily. It is still possible to re-register until a couple of weeks before each election, BUT these changes will affect constituency boundaries, so their votes might be less effective.
How will this happen?
Parliament has instructed the Boundary Commission to prepare new constituency boundaries. All constituencies should be roughly the same size, BUT the Commission has been told to use the voting register as it exists on 1 December 2015 to fix the boundaries for the 2020 general election.
Will this make any practical difference?
You bet it will. In Leeds Central constituency, for example, there are nearly 21,000 residential properties where nobody has yet registered to vote. Suppose there are, on average, two electors per house
or flat. That equates to 42,000 missing electors, which is a massive number of people to “lose”. It means that any new boundaries will bear little relationship to where people actually live.
Will this affect the outcome?
Many of the areas with slow registration include inner-city private-rented housing, where people move home fairly often. Few of these electors vote Conservative at the present time. On the whole they tend to back Labour, Green, Lib Dem or even UKIP. The Tory government’s gerrymandering will trap millions of anti-Tory voters within over-sized inner-city constituencies. Such votes don’t harm the government because the Tories stood little chance of winning such seats in the first place. BUT false boundaries will keep anti-Tory voters out of marginal constituencies which the government aims to win.
Surely they wouldn’t be so devious?
Every political party makes these calculations, but few have previously put them into effect. Ever since Margaret Thatcher, the Tories have engaged in social cleansing on a massive scale. We reckon that boundary errors could easily be worth fifty seats in the next Parliament.
What can be done about it?
The Tory government has already passed these laws, but you can help to defeat the Tories electoral scam by registering to vote before 1 December 2015.
The Leeds Figures
The estimate of 100,000 missing voters is based on the number of dwellings in Leeds where no-one was registered on 2 November. We are well aware that in some cases there will be no-one eligible to vote at this address. But we estimate that that will be cancelled out by a fairly conservative estimate of voters per household – we’ve used a multiplier of 2 – plus the fact that we have not included Morley and Outwood in our overall total: part of this constituency is in Wakefield and we have not been able to get the figures to complete the calculations here.
Dwellings without registered voters by Parliamentary constituency [Leeds Council wards in brackets].
[Figures are taken from data supplied by Leeds Elections Office – correct as at 2 November. Calculated and rechecked by Cllr John Illingworh – our thanks to John for this excellent work. The Government website is, unhelpfully, – deliberately? – not revealing overall figures until 1 December, so we cannot double check the situation there.]
Leeds NW – 5745 [2579 Headingley; 1718 Weetwood; 719 Adel and Wharfedale; 729 Otley and Yeadon]
Leeds NE – 4532 [1934 Chapel Allerton; 918 Roundhay; 858 Moortown; 822 Alwoodley]
Leeds East – 5434 [2462 Gipton and Harehills;, 1275 Killingbeck and Seacroft; 916 Cross Gates and Whinmoor; 781 Temple Newsam]
Leeds West -7065 [2352 Armley; 2223 Kirkstall; 1269 Bramley and Stanningley; 1221 Farnley and Wortley]
Leeds central – 20701 [8738 City and Hunslet; 5695 Hyde Park and Woodhouse; 2868 Burmantofts and Richmond Hill; 1972 Beeston; 1428 Middleton Park]
Pudsey – 3777 [1125 Horsforth; 1071 Pudsey; 864 Calverley; 717 Guiseley]
Elmet – 2791 [653 Kippax and Methley; 609 Rothwell; 551 Wetherby; 503 Garforth and Swillington; 475 Harewood]
Morley and Outwood – no total [Morley South 1078, Morley North 845, Ardsley and Robin Hood 612, Stanley and Outwood East, Wrenthorpe and Outwood West – we do not have figures for these last two wards, in Wakefield.]
The Leeds central figures reflect a “perfect storm” situation in the new system: student tower blocks, private rented accommodation with fast turnover, gated apartment blocks.
Overall unregistered properties in the Leeds Constituencies [excluding Morley and Outwood] = 50,045 = 100,090 at an average of two voters per address.