Today, 5th February, marks 182 years since the introduction of voter registration. Then, in 1832, the number of eligible voters in a borough varied from six to 12,000, with the selection of some MPs controlled by one person. We have come a long way since then, but there is still much more we can do.
In the 2010 general election, only 44% of 18 to 24 year-olds voted, while 76% of those aged 65 and over cast their vote. At the moment, only half of all young people are registered to vote. Certain groups are disproportionately under-represented. Only 56% of people living in private rented homes are registered. Nearly half of those not registered to vote mistakenly believe that they are.
This democratic deficit affects us all and it’s in all our interests to change this for the better. The electoral register performs a hugely important civic function. You can only vote, and choose the politicians who represent you, if you are on the register. It also ensures citizens are properly counted for the drawing of political boundaries – by ward and constituency – meaning the voice of Cardiff Central is heard. For our criminal justice system, the register enables selection for jury service.
From next year, each individual will have to register, rather than the traditional method of a household survey.
You can find out more about the benefits of voting, and how to decide who to vote for, on the Bite the Ballot website. Keep up with activity all around the country today by following the hashtag #NVRD on Twitter.