Two Labour AMs are calling on ‘missing’ voters to make sure they are able to make their voices heard.
Ken Skates and Lesley Griffiths – the Assembly Members for Clwyd South and Wrexham – are backing a campaign by Labour leader Ed Miliband to ensure a million extra people are able to be part of the democratic process.
Clwyd South AM Mr Skates said: “Every voter counts, so it’s crucial that as many people as possible who are eligible are on the electoral register.
“Around a million, many of them young people, are in danger of being denied a vote after going missing from the register following changes made by the UK Government.”
In a recent speech in Sheffield, the Labour leader Mr Miliband blamed the ‘hasty’ introduction of a new system – where people must register individually rather than one member of a household filling in a form – for the problem.
Students have been particularly affected, with new figures obtained by the Labour Party showing that several major English university cities including Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Brighton have seen 10,000 voters disappear.
In addition, a huge 24,000 have vanished in Cardiff alone – the highest fall in the UK.
Locally, Wrexham County Council has revealed that its number of registered voters has fallen by 2,769 in the last 12 months, from 101,763 to 104,532. Denbighshire County Council did not respond to the Freedom of Information request.
Mr Skates added: “There’s been a huge emphasis on ensuring non-voters get engaged with politics, yet the fact that so many students are currently unable to vote is hugely undemocratic. Our young people deserve to have their voices heard too.”
Wrexham AM Mrs Griffiths said: “These latest figures suggest thousands of residents in Wrexham could lose their right to vote because they are failing to register.
“Whilst I recognise there is a degree of disillusionment and disinterest in politics in general, it is so important to emphasise that voting is a basic democratic right which empowers individuals to have their say on the major issues in society.”
She added: “Being on the voter register also helps people boost their credit rating and can, therefore, help with loan, credit card or mortgage applications.
“This change in the system particularly affects the younger generation and I would encourage everyone to make sure they are registered on the electoral roll.”
Mr Skates reiterated that if Labour is in power after May’s General Election the voting age will be reduced from 18 to 16.
Labour says it will contact local government leaders over the next two weeks to urge action. In the last week, the party has begun work in university towns and cities to help students register ahead of May 7.
Visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote for more information.