North Staffs Green Party has given its support to a report produced by campaign group Hope Not Hate expressing concerns about government plans to introduce Individual Voter Registration (IER) a year earlier than planned.
Under the current system voters are registered by household, the introduction of IER would mean that voters have to register individually using their National Insurance number.
The government intend to introduce IER a year earlier than planned against advice from the Electoral Commission in time for the preparation of new electoral registers by the Boundary commission, these will be used at the 2016 local elections.
The report 'Britain's Missing Voters' (http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/voter-registration-report/individual-electoral-registration-briefing-2015-09-08.pdf) raises concerns including that changing the way we register to vote will mean that 1.9 million people will 'drop off' the electoral register.
This will result in the under-representation of people who are already living in marginalised and disadvantaged communities, creating a distorted electoral map with an adverse effect on urban areas where there are high numbers of people living in private rented accommodation.
The report recommends that the decision to introduce IER early be annulled and that councils be given a further twelve months in order to register missing voters. It also calls on the government to put a strategy backed by extra resources to increase voter registration, particularly in under represented areas.
The Green Party takes a strong position on electoral reform. Amongst the policies advocated by the party in its 2015 manifesto are the introduction of a written constitution including a Bill of Rights, using proportional representation to make sure every vote cast counts and supporting a fully elected House of Lords.
Campaigns Coordinator for North Staffs Green Party Adam Colclough said ' The government's plans for introducing individual electoral registration are poorly thought out, a fact attested to by the concerns expressed by the Electoral Commission cited in this report. Rushing them into place shows an utter disregard for our democracy.'
He added that: 'Giving political power back to the people is at the heart of everything the Green Party stands for, we support encouraging more people to register to vote and would like to see them doing so in a system that makes every vote cast count.'