Monday, 14 June 2010
Why the Register matters
The missing names on the Electoral Register became an issue at last week's PMQs. The coalition government has proposed cutting the number of seats in the House of Commons. It seeks to have fewer seats - but which are more or less equal in size. It is pushing forward with plans to redraw the boundaries quickly - in time for the next General Election. [Most Reviews take longer than a single Parliament - the existing procedure has a politically neutral Boundary Commission produce reports which can then be challenged and when needed public hearings held before a final recommendation is made - the express review will do away with those important safeguards].
In the USA the allocation of House of Representative seats is based on the census. It bears no relation to the number of people who have (or haven't registered) to vote. Currently it is estimated that there are 3.5 million people missing from the registers - so a redistribution based on the existing, flawed registers, could lead to unfairness. As Harriet Harman pointed out - this could exclude "a third of all black people, half of all young people, and half of all private sector tenants" - [based on the Electoral Commissions studies into non-registration].