More than half a million could miss EU vote after electoral roll revamp

© Kevin Coombs
Hundreds of thousands of Brits could risk missing the upcoming EU referendum after voters’ details were wiped off the register amid an electoral roll reshuffle which is aimed at clamping down on fraud.

Statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that up to 600,000 people could have been missed off the register after comparing numbers to the same period last year.

The statistics, the first since individual voter registration (IVR) was introduced, show a dramatic reduction in the number of young people and people from deprived areas.

The new system has been implemented to try and crack down on voting fraud by making each voter register themselves, rather than the “head” of each household, which previously was responsible for submitting each name.

The ONS results said there were 44,934,029 people on local government election registers and 43,478,635 on parliamentary registers, down by around 1.3% on the last UK figure.

Their results come as a separate study by the Electoral Commission found a total of 770,000 names had been missed off the latest electoral roll. The commission added that there had been a 40 percent drop in registered “attainers” – teens set to be able to vote in the coming year – due to parents no longer having to register them.

It called on local authorities to improve voter engagement and ensure all of those eligible are registered before June’s EU referendum.

Electoral Reform chief executive Katie Ghose said people were in danger of missing out on their "basic civic right."

"Any fall at this early stage of transition from household registration to IER [Individual Electoral Registration] is worrying, particularly if it begins to become a trend as the new system takes hold.

"The constituencies which saw the biggest drop are largely student seats and deprived areas - groups which are already under-represented. The areas with the biggest rise are largely wealthier areas. This patchy picture means electoral registration - and the number of parliamentary seats representing each area - is getting more unequal by the year.

"We can't have a democratic system based on a registration postcode lottery. And whatever the size of the fall, this evidence of growing social and age divides in our democracy could be hugely damaging if it carries on in the long run."