The Government funded research by the Electoral Commission to understand the state of the register within the existing system. This was the first report of its kind in over a decade.
As at December 2010, the Electoral Commission estimated that the register was 85-87% complete, which would mean that there are 6 million people missing from the register. This compares to a previous completeness figure in 2000 of 91-92% or 3.9 million people missing from the register.
The estimates are based on research undertake on the April 2011 registers, which found that at April 2011 the electoral registers in Great Britain are estimated to be 82% complete and 85% accurate. This equates to 8.5 million people missing from the register. However, the April 2011 figures are not directly comparable with the previous 2000 figures, since the 2000 figures were based on the December register (which is generally more complete and accurate as it is compiled directly after the annual canvass of electors).
This report showed that more than ever it is important that we modernise the electoral registration system, and that is what we are planning to do as part of the move to individual electoral registration. We are actively exploring ways in which we can make it as convenient and secure as possible for citizens to register to vote, for example by enabling new channels such as online registration. We are also taking steps to maximise registration among under-registered groups.
Increasing registration is not solely the responsibility of Government. Electoral registration officers appointed by but independent of local authorities have a duty to encourage participation in the electoral process and the Electoral Commission promotes public awareness of registration. Parliamentarians and elected officials from each of the political parties must also provide people with compelling reasons to register and participate.