Voting Rights: Young People

Cabinet Office written question – answered on 9th June 2020.

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Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to reduce the age for eligibility to vote in elections to 16.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of options to introduce an automatic system of electoral registration for all eligible citizens; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will introduce a process to enable people to check their electoral registration status online.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many eligible electors were not registered to vote at UK general elections in (a) 2015, (b) 2017 and (c) 2019; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing compulsory voting at elections.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of proportional voting systems; and if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a single transferable vote system for future UK elections.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of making future general election days a national holiday; and what estimate he has made of the potential effect of such a step on levels of voter participation.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what discussions (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department have had with Ministers in the devolved Administrations on improving the level of voter registration; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what the cost of supporting annual electoral registration was in each of the last 10 years.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many UK citizens resident overseas were (a) registered to vote, (b) successfully applied for absent voting and (c) voted in the 2019 UK Parliamentary General Election.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what was the cost to the public purse of funding to help increase the electoral registration of young people in each of the last five years.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of funding to increase electoral registration of young people; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the effect covid-19 restrictions on voter registration levels; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, how many European Union citizens resident in the UK who are registered to vote in the European Parliament elections were turned away from polling stations at the European Parliament Elections in (a) 2009, (b) 2014 and (c) 2019.

Photo of Martyn Day Martyn Day Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Public Health and Primary Care)

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what recent estimate the Government has made of the number of eligible people who are not on the electoral register in Linlithgow and East Falkirk constituency.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

The Government has no plans to change the voting age, having been elected on a manifesto commitment to retain the current franchise at 18.

The Government has no plans to introduce automatic registration. The Government considers registering to vote (and voting) to be a civic duty, but does not believe it should be compulsory. With online registration, the Government has made it easier than ever for those who want to to register.

The Cabinet Office does not hold information on eligible electors who are not registered to vote for an election. Numbers registered for electoral events are published by the Electoral Commission. Reports on the 2015, 2017, and 2019 General Elections have been produced by the Electoral Commission and are available online at www.electoralcommission.org.uk.

Some headline registration statistics by area published by the Office for National Statistics. The latest bulletin is available at www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/elections/electoralregistration.

The Cabinet Office has recently considered creating a live registration status check. There are technical, security and privacy issues but the Cabinet Office will continue to see whether future developments provide a feasible and cost-effective solution in coming years.

The Government believes that there is no clear evidence that voting on a national holiday would lead to an increase in turnout.

The Government was elected on a manifesto pledge to continue to support First Past the Post for parliamentary elections. The First Past the Post system is a robust and secure way of electing Members of Parliament. It ensures a clear link between elected representatives and constituents in a manner that systems of Proportional Representation may not. This ensures that MPs can represent the interests of their constituents when debating national issues.

The UK Government works closely with ministers and officials in devolved administrations on a range of issues relating to elections, including electoral registration issues. Details of discussions are not normally disclosed.

Each Electoral Registration Officer maintains a register for their own local area, including the number of overseas electors registered in their area. Information is not collated or held centrally on voting by electors. The Government does not hold data on UK citizens resident overseas who are registered to vote, who have successfully applied for absent voting, or who voted in the 2019 UK Parliamentary General Election.

Since 2013/14, the Government has provided more than £27 million to promote electoral registration and democratic engagement more widely, including among young people. For the 2019 General Election, of the 3.5 million people who registered to vote online between the day the poll was announced and the registration deadline, 66.1% were aged between 18 and 34.

The Cabinet Office is working closely with the Electoral Commission, Association of Electoral Administrators and Society of Local Government Chief Executives to support local authorities to deliver their duties in line with the Government’s guidance on Coronavirus. This includes working with the Electoral Commission on guidance for the 2020 canvass, which is now published on their website.

The planning and running of polls is the responsibility of Returning Officers, who are statutorily independent of local or national government. The Government does not collect data on those turned away from polls.

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