This is a big year for your vote – but time is running out to make sure you are able to use it.
On the May 5 the UK goes back to the polls with elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There are local government and mayoral elections in England (including London) and police and crime commissioner elections as well.
Just a few weeks later – on June 23– the biggest vote in a generation will take place in the form of the EU referendum which will decide our future in Europe.
Because of government changes to the way voters are registered hundreds of thousands of people have fallen off the electoral roll. Everyone must now register individually under a new system knows as individual electoral registration (IER) –you can’t rely on someone else doing it for you.
Renters, students, homes of multiple occupancy and immigrant communities are the groups hardest hit by the changes. You may be one of the many missing voters and not even know it.
You can still act to make sure your voice is heard – but time is running out. You must register online by 18 April if you don’t want to miss out.
Registering is easy – look out for details at the bottom of this page.
Unite has been campaigning hard on this issue in a bid to halt this outright attack on democracy by a Conservative government which was supported by just 24 per cent of the electorate – winning 36 per cent of the vote cast – at last year’s general election.
Tory ministers had sought to downplay the serious impact of their reforms but the Labour Party has now revealed statistics which confirm the fears expressed by a range of campaign groups.
These show that 800,000 fewer people were registered in December 2015 than the year before, with the drop sharpest among students. There was 13 per cent fall in Cambridge, while in Dundee West 11 per cent of voters were wiped off the register.
Unite’s political director, Jennie Formby, said, “We are telling people to get ready and get registered in order to have a say in May and again the following month in the EU referendum.
“The government – with a slim majority – is manipulating the electoral register for its own ends. What we are seeing is nothing less than a shocking attack on democracy in this country.
“Individual voter registration amounts to the biggest disenfranchisement in British history, with the aim of gaining political advantage,” she added.
The implications of the changes go further and deeper than the coming elections.
The new register will form the basis of the work of the Boundary Commission looking into the shape of parliamentary constituencies for the 2020 general election.
“David Cameron is using underhand tactics to maximise the chances of a Conservative victory in 2020,” Formby added. “He should be utterly ashamed at this anti-democratic ploy.
“The simple message from Unite is – anyone who’s unsure whether they are registered or not should act –go online and register directly. But please do it quickly. Tell your colleagues, friends and family to get registered and be heard.”
Follow these simple steps to registering:
Go to to gov.uk/register-to-vote. Remember the deadline to register to vote is April 18.
It takes minutes to register online, Fill in your name, address, date of birth and a few other details. You will need your national insurance number. You can find this on your pay slip, or on official letters about benefits or tax credits. If you’ve lost it, got to: gov.uk/lost-national-insurance-number
We all lead busy lives to why not make voting easier and go for a postal vote? Anyone can apply but you need to do so by April 19.
Go to gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-vote. Simply download the form, fill it in and return it to your local election registrations office. For more information and to find your local office, go to About My Vote.
Click here for more
See what Ricky Tomlinson has to say