Daniel Zeichner, Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Cambridge, has raised the issue of thousands missing from the electoral roll across the city, caused by recent changes to how people register to vote.
Before 2015, Cambridge colleges and ARU halls of residence registered students on arrival. However, after the introduction of individual registration, some have estimated that the decline in registered students in Cambridge is over 50% in just two years. Since the change, there has also been a significant decline in registered voters in poorer areas of the city.
In the days before EU referendum, there was a last-minute surge of registration, causing the online system to crash. Since the General Election was called, one third of all new applications to vote have been made by people under the age of 25 – in contrast to just 1% from people over 75 – showing students want to register, but are only finding out now how to do so.
Daniel Zeichner said, “When the Lib Dems and Conservatives altered the registration system, they knew exactly what they were doing. It was an attempt to remove young people and the most dispossessed from our register, because these people were hardest hit by their policies.”
“I was deeply sceptical when my Lib Dem opponent voted with the Tories to bring in this change to the way people register to vote. I warned then that it would damage democracy, and it has. It is crystal clear that young people are not registered in the same numbers as older people. So my message is: register now! Do not lose your democratic right -; it’s your voice in this election.”