Online Voter Registration (Young and Student Voters)

Oral Answers to Questions — Electoral Commission Committee – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 12th March 2015.

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Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden 9:30 am, 12th March 2015

What assessment the Electoral Commission has made of the effect of online registration on young and student voters.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

The Electoral Commission informs me that 18 to 24-year-olds are the second most active age group in making use of the online registration system, comprising about a quarter of all applications. Research conducted by YouGov for the Electoral Commission in January showed that 53% of 18 to 24-year-olds are still unaware that they can register to vote online. The commission is working with a wide range of organisations to encourage young people to register to vote and to raise awareness of how easy it is to do so online.

Photo of Caroline Spelman Caroline Spelman Conservative, Meriden

I am very concerned that, on 1 December, the electoral register appeared to have reduced by 900,000. Is my right hon. Friend aware that party-branded material is being circulated in schools to encourage 18-year-olds to register to vote? What can be done to ensure that there is political balance with young voters?

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

Since 1 December, more than 2 million applications to register to vote have been made, so it is almost certain that the numbers will be rebalanced by the time we get to 7 May.

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

You said that with a straight face!

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

The Electoral Commission is about to launch, on Monday, its TV awareness campaign, which I know the hon. Lady will support, to drive home the message that if you do not register, you cannot vote. The Electoral Commission is working with a number of organisations to make sure that this message has been put across to young people.