General election: Government data shows huge spike in under-25 voter registration applications

More than 177,000 individuals applied on Wednesday to take part in the first December general election in almost a century

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Thursday 31 October 2019 13:38
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A considerable spike in under-25s applying for voter registration was recorded during the first day of the general election campaign, according to government data.

As party leaders kicked off their electoral efforts on Wednesday, more 177,000 individuals applied either online or on paper to take part in the first December general election in almost a century.

Of these, 59,000 were under the age of 25 and a further 56,000 were between the ages of 25 to 34. Among those over the age of 65, more than 7,000 applications were logged on 30 October.

This was the greatest number of under-25s applying for voter registration in one single day since 22 May 2017 – the deadline to vote during that year's election – when 246,487 applied.

On Tuesday, as MPs approved the 12 December election by an overwhelming majority, 139,162 applied, including 45,000 under the age of 25 and 46,000 were between the ages of 25 and 34.

And in the eight weeks ahead of MPs’ decision to hold a general election, about two million individuals applied to register to vote – almost double the number of the previous eight weeks.

Willie Sullivan, a senior director at the Electoral Reform Society, welcomed the “huge surge”, but warned: “With up to 9.4 million people missing from the electoral roll, there’s a long way to go before we close the registration gap.”

“The huge registration backlog is a real issue of political inequality, with stark differences in registration levels among different groups,” he added. “Younger people and renters are most at risk of being missing from the register, so it’s welcome to see this surge in registration from the ‘missing millions’.

“We are not complacent – this election must see the biggest registration drive this country has seen to ensure it genuinely represents us all.

“It’s an annoying reality that many of these applications will be already on the register, since there’s no way to check online if you are already registered. Our registration system has improved in recent years but it still lags behind many other countries.”

Despite parliament not expected to be dissolved until early next week, the election campaign began in earnest yesterday as both Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson traded blows, with the prime minister accusing the Labour leader of “incessant indecision”.

Launching his party’s campaign on Thursday, Mr Corbyn is also expected to attack Mr Johnson and his “born-to-rule Conservatives”.

To vote in December’s election, individuals will have until 26 November to apply for voter registration through the government’s online system.

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