The Queen's Speech: Individual voter register planned

 

Voters will be required to register individually under plans to modernise the electoral system unveiled in the Queen's Speech.

The move away from registering on the electoral roll by household has been controversial, with warnings it could lead to some people losing their right to vote.

But the Government insists the changes, which will be phased in from 2014, will help tackle election fraud and could make it easier for people to register to vote.

The Electoral Registration and Administration Bill will open up the way for people to sign up online for the right to vote and improve the way elections are run.

Individual electoral registration (IER) will be required from 2014 for new registrations or for anyone who wants a postal or proxy vote.

From December 1, 2015 - after the next general election - everyone on the electoral register will use the new system.

The legislation will also allow for "data matching" checks with other public databases to verify applications and confirm existing entries to help maintain a complete list during the transition to IER.

The Government's original proposals were set out in a white paper last year.

Labour supports the principle of individual registration but has called for safeguards to ensure that voters do not "fall off" the electoral roll as the change is introduced.

Jenny Watson, chairwoman of the Electoral Commission, said: "We have been calling since 2003 for our voting system to be strengthened, so I am delighted that legislation to introduce individual electoral registration has been included in the Queen's Speech.

"It is right that every elector should be checked and verified before their name is included in the register.

"But this will be a significant change.

"It is essential that it is introduced in a way that puts the needs of voters first.

"It will also need careful planning and implementation to ensure it maximises the accuracy and completeness of the electoral registers."

PA

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