Coalition ‘wiping the poor off the political map’

By Phil Scullion and Ian Dunt

Ten million voters could be knocked off the electoral register under government plans which have left MPs "genuinely shocked".

Many of those likely to be affected are from poorer backgrounds and considered more likely to vote Labour.

MPs on the political and constitutional reform select committee realised the potential effect of the changes after three evidence sessions this week with election experts.

Even Tory committee members expressed surprise at the proposals, which would register voters individually and no longer make it compulsory to co-operate with electoral registration officers.

Tristam Hunt, a Labour committee member, said: "These plans show how little this government really cares about democracy or fairness.

"If they get away with it, the effect on the 2020 general election will make the chaotic boundary review published this week look minor. This is designed to wipe the poor and the young off the political map.

"We are moving from a notion of registering as part as a civic duty to something akin to personal choice like a Nectar card or BA miles."

The move would effectively turn voter registration from a duty to a choice.

With three million of the people already registered to vote not voting on the day, the percentage of the electorate who make the trip down to the voting station next election is now likely to be even lower – especially in Labour-supporting areas.

Unlock Democracy director Peter Facey commented: "Individual voter registration is essential to improving the security of our elections and actively campaigned for it.

"It is an important mechanism to prevent fraud and ensure that the person who casts the vote in an election, is the person on the electoral register.

"It is bad enough that the voting system excludes so many people; when even the registration system is