The move towards online voter registration has “transformed” access to elections in Great Britain and should be implemented in Northern Ireland “as soon as possible” according to the Electoral Commission.
Figures released in their report on voter registration in the 2017 UK General Election shows a record number of voters enrolled onto the electoral register at 46.8 million people. This is 500,000 more electors than the 2015 General Election.
The report argues that further modernisation is “urgently required” to ensure the registration process is fully joined up and “fit for purpose in today’s world.”
Sir John Holmes, Chair of the Commission, said:
“If we are to keep pace with modern habits and practice in a digital world, the electoral registration system must continue to evolve, and consider innovative solutions such as direct or automatic enrolment processes. These have the potential to deliver significant improvements to the accuracy and completeness of electoral registers as well as efficiencies for local authorities and the public purse.”
The findings of the report show that more than 2.9 million applications to join the electoral register were made between the announcement of the snap election until the deadline day, including 612,000 on deadline day itself. Of these applications, 96% were made using the online portal rather than the paper-based option. Estimates of duplicate applications from people already on the electoral register range from 30% to 70%.
Specific recommendations from the Commission include joining up the electoral register with other public services, incorporating automatic checks for duplicate applications, and for automatic registration methods to be explored further.
The Electoral Commission’s report Electoral Registration at the June 2017 UK General Election can be accessed here.