Following the change to Individual Electoral Registration, there are a large number of people still missing from the electoral register. While the numbers increased during the recent General Election campaign, with record numbers of people signing up to have their say, the registration system means that many of those will fall off the register when they move house in the next few months.
This obviously has a particularly large effect on student voter registration. Students and young people made a big difference in the recent election, and I was thrilled to see so many young people in Cardiff Central not just interested but engaged, involved, campaigning and voting.
In order to make it easier for students to register to vote, Labour pushed for an amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill which put an obligation on universities to co-operate with electoral registration officers in local councils. The government, however, still will not let universities block register students during the enrolment process.
I know from talking to students in Cardiff Central that they would like this opportunity to register more easily at enrolment and re-registration each year, and asked the Minister whether or not the government would commit to allowing this.
Disappointingly the Minister continued to refuse this, saying only that the duty lies with universities to encourage registration.
If the government really were committed to getting students and young people registered to vote, and voting, they would be making every effort and every provision to achieve this. I will keep fighting for easier registration, and for everyone to be able to have their say.
You can watch my question here, or read the full text below.
Jo Stevens MP:
If this government is really committed to modernising the electoral register, will the Minister confirm today that it will allow universities to block register students during enrolment and re-registration and ensure that schools and FE colleges give details of people approaching voting age to the ERO?
Chris Skidmore MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Cabinet Office):
We do not agree with block registration. What the government has done with the Higher Education Act is ensure that a duty is placed on universities to ensure that they encourage registration. We will be bringing forward ministerial guidance on the issue in 2018.