Nick Smith MP Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent
Nick Smith MP has branded the Government’s flagship voting changes as “a body blow to democracy” as a million people have already fallen off the register.
In the same week as Voter Registration Day, it was revealed that despite Government assurances, the General Election’s result has been jeopardised by the new system.
The Blaenau Gwent MP had already revealed that more than 2,000 people had vanished from the register in his constituency due to Individual Electoral Registration -; a fact that has been repeated up and down the country.
For the 373 local Authorities for which data has been processed, 307 have seen a reduction in the electoral roll. In these Local Authorities 1,016,024 fewer voters are registered in 2015, compared with in 2014.
Mr Smith pressed the Government repeatedly in a debate in Parliament this week, demanding to know why private databases such as Experian were not used to help complete records.
With young people being the most at risk of falling off due to moving for education and mortgage applications needing voter registration to be approved, Mr Smith said the Government had failed in their efforts at the worst possible time.
“We have had several elections between now and when these plans were approved. Why is it the most important elections for this country have been used as a guinea pig?” he said.
“I’ve spoken to front line staff trying to make this work, but they haven’t been given all the tools I think they need.
“They should be out there on the doorstep talking to voters and signing them up and instead they are chasing National Insurance Numbers and getting bogged down in process.
“The Government should be ashamed at this crisis of democracy -; a crisis of their own doing.
“We should be engaging with lapsed voters and young voters in particular, but instead we’ve got a system that is quietly pushing them into irrelevance.
“One voter who turns up on voting day to find out they can’t vote is one too many. People fought and died for the right to vote, so we should be doing everything in our power to make sure our democracy is open to all.”
You can register to vote online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote