Individual electoral registration: this is how government is meant to work

Via a slightly odd story in the Daily Telegraph comes the news that Nick Clegg is pushing for the current legal penalties for not returning electoral registration forms to be maintained when individual electoral registration is introduced.

I say slightly odd, because Tim Ross’s report misses out nearly all of the context, simply talking about:

Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, is backing proposals to ensure that every individual is responsible for registering themselves on the electoral roll.

However, ministers fear that thousands of young people, particularly students moving house after leaving university, fail to re-register and fall out of the system.

The Liberal Democrat leader is understood to have been convinced that some form of sanction will be necessary to force potential voters to register.

So here’s the context the piece misses:

  1. The government is moving to individual electoral registration, implementing a decision made by the previous Labour government and widely supported across the political spectrum.
  2. Under the current system, there is a legal obligation for household electoral registration forms to be returned. There has been controversy over suggestions that there would not be any similar legal obligation under individual registration.
  3. In response to the controversy, and in particular the views expressed by a cross-party Parliamentary Committee and by the independent Electoral Commission, Nick Clegg announced the government was thinking again.

So the story in short is: government makes proposal, consults on proposal and then responds to views expressed. Sort of how government and consultation is meant to work…



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