Ed Miliband is on a ‘national mission’ to ensure that students who have “fallen off” the electoral registration roll can vote in the upcoming general election.
In a speech at Sheffield Hallam University last week, Miliband accused the Government for taking away young people’s democratic rights with the new individual registration system.
He said: “In the last year, almost one million people have fallen off the electoral register; hundreds of thousands of them young people.
“There is a clear and present danger that young people will not even have the right to use their voice.”
The Government introduced individual voter registration to reduce electoral fraud. However, Miliband said this has only lead to many people, especially students, going missing on the list.
University cities and towns have especially been affected by the new system due to the decision to end block registration by universities and colleges of students living in halls of residence.
This has caused five-figure falls in the numbers of registered voters in university towns such Cardiff, Newcastle, and Brighton, according to Labour. In London the numbers are down by almost 100.000.
In his speech, Miliband promised to lead a ‘national mission’ to ensure young voters were able to hold the coalition leaders to account on May 7th.
He called on the Government, the Electoral Commission, universities and local authorities to take urgent action by the end of the month to ensure that people can get back on the register before the deadline of April 20th.
Liberal Democrats MP Tom Brake dismissed Miliband’s accusations and said many of the ‘missing’ student voters would still be on the electoral roll as they previously would have been registered twice.
He added Nick Clegg secured £10m of extra funding to support registration by students and other under-represented groups.
Tom Brake said: “Labour must have forgotten they began the policy of individual electoral registration while they were in government and still support it in principle.”
A Cabinet spokesperson said nearly 90 per cent of electors have been automatically transferred to the new system without having to do anything, adding:
“Everyone else is being contacted directly and encouraged to use the new convenient online registration system.”