HUNDREDS of thousands of people have been removed from the register of voters in the last year due to Tory attempts to “rig” the electoral system, according to alarming figures published yesterday.
The Office for National Statistics revealed that 603,000 people were taken off the electoral register between December 2014 and December 2015.
That includes a steep 40 per cent fall in the number of 16 and 17-year-olds registered to vote.
The slump comes after changes to electoral registration were rushed through Parliament in time for May’s local and devolved elections — against the advice of the Electoral Commission.
Electoral Reform Society (ERS) chief executive Katie Ghose said: “With elections all over the country in just three months, far too many people are in danger of missing out on their most basic civic right.
“Any fall at this early stage of transition from household registration to IER [individual electoral registration] is worrying, particularly if it begins to become a trend as the new system takes hold.”
Though the move to individual registration has cross-party support, the government has ignored advice that the change must be phased in and supported by a public awareness-raising campaign.
The ERS warned that the biggest falls were seen in the most deprived areas and in seats with a high number of students, while the biggest rises came in the richest areas.
Labour’s shadow minister for voter registration Gloria De Piero warned: “What’s worse is that the government is shamelessly taking this as an opportunity to redraw constituency boundaries based on an electorate far lower than it should be.
“This is another example of David Cameron and the Conservative Party trying to rig the system for their own political ends.”