New registration rules spark voter loss fears for 2016 election

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by a Newsnet.scot Reporter

The Electoral Commission in Scotland is being urged to investigate claims that hundreds of thousands of Scots face being excluded from voting, despite turning out for the independence referendum last September.
Rumours have been circulating concerning voter registration, after the issuing of allegedly confusing letters from regional electoral offices across the country.

Gibson: raised concerns with Electoral Commission
Gibson: raised concerns with Electoral Commission

Now SNP MSP Rob Gibson has raised the concerns directly with the  Electoral Commission, following a Herald newspaper report which alleges that the new rules – which make each voter responsible for his or her registration rather than the “head of household – are causing widespread confusion.

It is believe that as many as 800,000 people who signed up to vote in last year’s referendum may not be eligible for the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2016.

Gibson described the participation level for the referendum as one of the great successes of the campaign.
“Never before have so many people signed up to have their say in the democratic process in Scotland – it is vitally important that we aim to retain this level of voter participation,” added Gibson.

“The Electoral Commission’s transition from a household canvass of voters to individual registration in Glasgow alone has seen 100,000 fewer voters registered so far – and this could mount to 800,000 across Scotland if means are not found to encourage voter registration in good time for 2016.”

The MSP revealed that he had found his own letter received from his local Electoral Registration Office did not make clear what elections this reregistration would impact on.

“It only informed me that I could not be re-registered because my date of birth and National Insurance Number were not sufficient identifiers. This letter was worded in an unnecessarily unhelpful way – I would urge a more open and engaging approach.”

Glasgow: 100,000 missing voters
Glasgow: 100,000 missing voters

A voter registration drive in some areas of Scotland, and particularly Glasgow, resulted in a massive growth in the number of eligible voters and contributed to the record turnout last September 18.

There was controversy when some local authorities opted to use the new voter records to chase up poll tax debts, and the threat was averted only when the Scottish Government intervened. There was concern then that such a move would deter people from voting.

The number of people who have responded to the change since its launch four months ago is significantly lower in various local authority area, with the biggest concern in Glasgow, where 100,000 people have not yet signed up to the system. That represents a 22 per cent drop.

Labour has raised similar concerns about parallel changes to the system in England. The changes are intended to reduce the possibility of electoral fraud. However, the re-registration is particularly low in population centres with a high rate of transient people and students.

14 COMMENTS

  1. The strategists and wreckers are always with us. If every vote is worthy of recognition it it surely has to be encouraged. Is it a mere jump away till when we will be asked to pay to vote?

  2. Is there an online resource anywhere that i can use which clearly explains what info should be on a GE2015 polling card and likewise what information should be on the ballot paper?

  3. How are voters falling off the register?
    Let me guess:
    When some lousy LabourTory troglodyte at the Council strike you off.

    https://www.gov.uk/yourvotematters
    “Look out for your letter

    Most people who are already registered to vote have been moved on to the new system automatically. So you may not need to do anything.

    In Scotland, look out for a letter from your local council in October or November.

    That refers to last year I think.

  4. The answer to the missing 800,000 voters is really very simple. The Electoral Commission has a bounden duty to check each and every single one of those 800,000 voters to make sure that they didn’t exist, had moved, were 10 years old, or whatever other reason there is that they have disappeared from lists made up by the “householder”.

    Every organisation that is responsible for distributing the right to vote to its electorate, also has the bounden duty to make sure that all those eligible to vote who have taken any reasonable step to claim their right to vote, can vote, without having to jump though hoops to get their right to vote if the body has administrative problems under its own responsibility.

    That is democracy, anything less, isn’t.

  5. The sooner we stop the electoral commission running our elections the sooner the legitimacy of the plebescite can be guaranteed. Why we ever allowed them to run the referendum is beyond me. In a unique and historically important event it should have been an impartial third party. Our system stinks as its full of loopholes and opportunities to defraud.

    • Couldn’t agree more Big Jock. I could not understand why we allowed the EC to be involved in the referendum. They are a fully paid up member of the establishment and are there to protect that establishment in any way it can.

      I had a feeling from the minute that I knew they were running the show that we would probably ‘lose’ the referendum. Unfortunately I turned out to be right.

  6. Story in the on-line Herald about Murphy’s spin doctor and a tweet she made about the results of the postal votes looking good for NO side. Police may end up involved.

    Even a Banana Republic would not use our voting system.

  7. I know. Also with the civil service and Whitehall chappies recently admitting they were there to prop up Westminster in the referendum. It is not a great leap to understand the duplicity of the Electoral Commission. That they were allowed to run this to my mind was an own goal. I do fear for the general election as well in Scotland as they are involved.

    • I haven’t trusted the Electoral Commission since the 2007 Holyrood Election. Why the SG ever let them anywhere near the Referendum still beggars belief. Having run into at least 4 holiday home owners on Hogmanay who live in my Constituency for a mere 3 weeks in total of the year, who registered to vote in the Referendum and vote No by postal vote as it happened; I thus find Mr Gibson raising concerns with the Electoral Commission to be lame.

      I have found the SG handling of voter registration issues lamentable, there are several Scottish Councils that need watching and in my view cant be trusted with registering any voter or drawing up Electoral Rolls. We have an electoral system that Robert Mugabe would split his sides laughing at since he hadn’t thought about the Brit way of running elections first, they are rife for Electoral Fraud to take place and the Commission hums and haws in the best Bwitish traditions of a Carry On movie.

  8. The Republicans tried deregistration tricks in some States where there were too many potential Democrat voters, like Florida.

    The people caught in these traps were usually the poorer members of Society and often black.

    Seems like the Tories are importing more than psephologists and spin doctors from the US.

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