East Ham MP Stephen Timms says don’t lose your vote


- Credit: Archant

Last Thursday was National Voter Registration Day.

It also marked the 183rd anniversary of the Great Reform Act, which introduced voter registration. Then, the number of eligible voters in a borough varied from 6,000 to 12,000, with the selection of some Members of Parliament determined by only one person!

The current government introduced a new system of voter registration, called Individual Electoral Registration (IER). It means that people register to vote individually. In the old system, the ‘head of household’ was responsible for registering everyone at the address.

Many areas expect a fall in the number of registered voters, as IER kicks in. Some areas, such as cities and towns with large student and private rented sector populations, are already seeing large numbers fall off their register. For example, Liverpool – with a large student population – has seen the electoral register shrink by around 20,000. There are worrying signs in Newham too. For example, 690 postal voters in East Ham lost their postal vote on December 1 because they are yet to be confirmed.

On National Voter Registration Day, I visited colleges in and around East Ham, and spent time in Beckton too. Registering to vote is easy – it can be done online or by completing a form from the Town Hall – but many don’t realise the system has changed and that they need to register individually. It’s very important for democracy that people do register to vote. Most at risk at falling off the register include university students, first time voters and people who have recently moved. If you know anyone like this, ask them to register at gov.uk-register-to-vote or tell them to contact me at the House of Commons. I can send them a form in the post. More from Stephen Timms