Hackney risks losing one of its two MPs if voters fail to re-register by December 1 under the new Independent Electoral Registration scheme.
Under the new scheme the number of registered voters will determine MP allocation, where previously it was based on geographical area. Hackney risks losing one of its MPs, one of 50 that stand to be lost nationwide, if voters fail to re-register in sufficient numbers by December 1.
The scheme has been moved forward a year, against the recommendations from the Electoral Commission. Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said: “I’m extremely concerned that the government did not comply with the Electoral Commission’s recommendation to keep the December 2016 deadline.”
“In areas like Hackney these changes may lead to vulnerable groups losing their right to vote, and across London an inaccurate register could lead to loss of constituencies and seats.”
Hackney is expected to lose 23 per cent of voters. It is one of eight boroughs which face losing more than 10 per cent of their voters because of voters failing to re-register. London will be greatly affected by the changes as a quarter of a million lost voters are expected to come from the city.
Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, said: “Individual Electoral Registration is causing challenges in Hackney. Our population is young and mobile and many are not registering.”
With a high concentration of private renters, young people, students and black and ethnic minority groups, voters in Hackney’s two constituencies are said to be less likely to re-register, according to research conducted by the Electoral Commission.
Hillier believes that there is “confusion” among voters who are not aware of the new system and she argues it requires people to be “quite savvy and determined in order to be able to vote.”
Poppy Moore, 17, student, said: “I didn’t know about it till I got a letter telling me to sign up, which I thought I had already done. I’m going to be able to vote soon and I don’t think we should have one MP, we should have two.”
The lack of awareness was a big issue for Michael Little, 67, inventor, who said: “I would have thought that there should be some notices around and more spreading of the information through the media. Evidently it’s something that hasn’t achieved much prominence and therefore, easily missed.”
Hackney Council has sent out an enquiry form to every household to determine who needs to re-register to vote as part of the annual survey. A representative for the council said that they have been using “advertising, leaflet drops as well as reminder letters.”
To check if you need to re-register visit: www.register-online.co.uk
To register to vote visit: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote