Could Labour suffer if each elector had to register?

Could Labour suffer if each elector had to register?

    What do we think of the Electoral Commission’s conclusions?

As the BBC is reporting this morning all web and phone voting pilots should be halted according to a report from the Electoral Commission on the voting experiments that took place in parts of England in May 3rd.

Then there were a series of trials including internet and phone voting, electronic counting, insisting that voters sign for their forms, and making town centre facilities available ahead of polling day so people could vote early.

    But the one thing that the Electoral Commission is still pressing for is individual voter registration which would “strengthen the security” of the voting process.” This is something that operates in Northern Ireland and which, until now has been opposed by Labour.

But how do you get people, particularly the young, to do this? Those involved in this process say its challenging with the current system that one person in the household fills in the registration form. Alas it is not hard to work out how this process could be open to abuse.

Labour, certainly in the Blair days, saw making it easier for people to vote as a key strategy in ensuring that the party maximises its electoral potential. Individual voter registration, it’s suggested, would impede that. Certainly all the polling shows that there are more Labour-inclining adults in the UK than Tories but the former group are less inclined to vote.

There is even evidence to suggest that when Labour supporters say they are are “100% certain to vote” they are less likely to do so than backers of other parties. So much so, in fact, that in its final poll before 2005 general election Ipsos-Mori applied a differential filter so that Labour “certains” counted for less than Tory ones.

Tony Blair always had a close interest in voting system. The question now is whether Brown will follow suit. The continued insistence by the Commission on individual registration could be hard for Labour to resist.

Mike Smithson

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