Student unions and councils promise drive to get people ready to vote amid fall in voter registrations

Election ballot box.Photo: Bill Smith

Election ballot box.Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: EDP © 2001

District councils and students have pledged a big drive to ensure people vote in the general and local elections in May amid figures which show registrations have fallen in the wake of an overhaul of the system.

Norwich has seen a 4.7pc fall in electoral registrations, according to figures compiled by the Labour Party, with most other parts of the region also seeing a drop.

Labour candidate for Norwich South Clive Lewis said the changes had hit student registration - the changes do not allow a head of halls of residence to register voters.

He accused the Government of being 'cynical' in the way it had brought in the changes because the 'two incumbent parties have invoked the ire of students in the country and Norwich South' over its increase in tuition fees.

He said the while changes were needed to move away from the Victorian head of household style of registering everyone, efforts to get people registered were 'half-hearted and paltry'.

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But Norwich MP Chloe Smith, a former minister in the cabinet office who helped to bring in the changes, said that concern was 'premature' and that it was a continuing process to get people registered.

She said that the timing of the figures had not left enough time between students enrolling and the registers.

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Chris Jarvis Campaigns and Democracy Officer at the Union of UEA Students said the move towards individual voter registration was undoubtedly having a huge effect on the number of students registered to vote.

The union will be running a campaign for the general election which would gather students views to be built into a student manifesto, as well as efforts to get people registered. Norwich City Council said it expected the figure to be significantly higher by the voter registration deadline on 20 April.

'We will shortly be writing to all properties within the city council's boundary to confirm those who are already on the register, and to provide information to those who are not on the register so they know what to do to make sure they can vote in the coming elections,' a spokesperson said.

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