1 million voters fall off electoral roll after Con-Dems introduce individual registration
LABOUR’S Ed Miliband launched a crusade yesterday against the government’s electoral “betrayal” of young people and urged university chiefs to join the fight to find Britain’s missing 1 million voters.
In a landmark speech from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s Sheffield constituency, Mr Miliband tore into rushed reforms ending per-house electoral registration that have seen hundreds of thousands drop from the roll on the eve of the 2015 contest.
In an address to Sheffield Hallam students Mr Miliband pledged a youth manifesto, declaring: “This government has betrayed young people.”
He said there was a “clear and present danger” that thousands would be stripped of the right to vote.
“This is a direct consequence of the government’s decision to ignore warnings that rushing through new individual voter registration would damage democracy,” he said.
“Having broken their promises on tuition fees to young people, having failed to build the economy that will work for them, having short-changed their future, this is David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s final insult to young people.”
Electoral reformers welcomed Mr Miliband’s intervention on the growing scandal which forced ministers to push through £9.8 million in emergency funding last week in a belated bid to plug the voter black hole.
His speech coincided with the release of figures suggesting that a million voters had dropped off the electoral roll following the introduction of a system that makes it an individual rather than a group responsibility for the first time.
Students and young people in rented accommodation are among those worst hit by the changes, which also ended block registration of residents by universities.
The government pressed on despite warnings that millions could effectively lose their vote in the run-up to the 2015 general election — many of them in Labour heartlands.
In a letter to university vice-chancellors yesterday Mr Miliband urged a mass publicity campaign to counter the “dramatic effect” of the changes.
“It’s now the duty of everyone concerned, including central government, local authorities, the voluntary sector and all the political parties, to find those missing millions and make sure they don’t lose out on their most basic civic right,” the Electoral Reform Society said.