The House of Lords Select Committee on the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 said in its fresh report that a one-size-fits-all approach to election registration in Britain will not work.
"Millions of voters may still be missing from electoral registers. The Act has helped to make registers more accurate but they remain significantly incomplete. This is particularly the case with under-registered groups such as young people, frequent home movers, care home residents and people from BAME backgrounds. Incomplete registers can only be damaging to the integrity of elections. Urgent steps must be taken to address this,” the Chair of the Committee, Lord Shutt of Greetland said.
Concerns over the inclusiveness of the system are partially rooted in the potential flaws during the transition from the outdated 'household registration' system to the individual electoral registration (IER), introduced on 10 June 2014 in England and Wales and on 19 September 2014 in Scotland, immediately after the Scottish independence referendum.
📢📢Today we publish our report ‘An electoral system fit for today? More to be done’. 🗳️☑️— Electoral Registration Act 2013 Committee (@HLelecregact) July 7, 2020
📖Read it here and let us know what you think https://t.co/XObL6gTj5I
IER system gave each individual control over their own registration and the process taking up as little as 3 minutes when done online.
During the transition period, however, "people–particularly young people and private renters–were likely to drop off the electoral register," said the academics from the British Election Study. The Select Committee voiced concern that millions of votes were lost from the register in the process.
"To help improve registers and ease the administrative burden, Government must take further steps to modernise the system. This includes automatic registration for young people joining registers as they come of age, assisted registration to prompt eligible voters to register when accessing other public services, and an online registration checking tool,” Lord Shutt of Greetland said.
The transition period ended on 1 December 2015, when all unverified entries were removed from registers.
The House of Lords Committee issued a number of recommendations to the government to deal with the problem, including urgent exploration for “an online registration checking tool to reduce duplicate applications at busy election times.”
The Select Committee argued that in order to further transparency in national voting, the government must target resources and support at local authorities where fraud may be occurring, and reform the process for investigating and prosecuting cases of fraud.
"The annual canvass is expensive, cumbersome and confusing. A lot of time is spent confirming the details of people whose situation has not changed. We welcome the reforms to simplify the process, but they should go further,” Lord Shutt of Greetland added.
Brits have taken to the polls three times in the past five years to vote in a general election – 2015, 2017 and 2019. In addition, votes were also cast in the 2016 the referendum on the membership of the European Union, as well as in devolved elections in Scotland and Wales.