May 06, 2019 12:00 PM

One in ten eligible voters incorrectly believe they are registered

Ahead of the 7th May midnight deadline to register to vote in the European elections, exclusive new research finds that one in ten people incorrectly think they are registered.

Last week, Best for Britain released a report showing that 7.9 million eligible voters across the UK were unregistered for the upcoming European elections, scheduled for Thursday 23rd May.

Now exclusive analysis, commissioned by Best for Britain and undertaken by Number Cruncher Politics, has found that ten per cent of those who believe they are registered are not actually on the electoral register.

The analysis, which examines the variation in non-registration rates by demographic group, and additionally by whether or not they believe they are registered, also found that 1 in 3 under 25s are not registered, as well as more than 1 in 10 under 50s.

The biggest determinant of whether someone was likely to be on the electoral register was their home ownership status. In the private rented sector, the rate of non-registration was 29 per cent - far higher than for outright homeowners (7 per cent), those with mortgages (9 per cent) and social renters (12 per cent). This is because private renters tended to be younger than homeowners and social renters, as well as being more likely to have moved homes in recent times.

Online Registration Tool

This research highlights the urgent need to get as many eligible voters registered before the upcoming European elections as possible.

With the deadline to register at midnight tomorrow, and then 5pm on Wednesday for a postal vote, Best for Britain have launched a new tool at getvoting.org which will help users register to vote and obtain a postal vote. It will also remind users of various electoral deadlines and to get out to vote on polling day.

Commenting, Best for Britain supporter Dr Phillip Lee MP said:

"This is a timely reminder for everyone of the importance of making sure you are registered to vote.

"We cannot sit idly by while millions risk not having their voices heard in the upcoming European elections.

"Democracy thrives when people take part in it and it's crucial that we get as many eligible voters to register as possible."

Also commenting, Best for Britain supporter Rachael Maskell MP said:

“The right to vote is one of the most important rights we hold. It creates a healthy channel of communication between communities and those tasked with representing them.

“But in order to get that far we must ensure as many people as possible are registered to vote.”

Interim CEO of Best for Britain, Naomi Smith, said:

"It’s deeply worrying that one in ten voters think they’re signed up to vote when in fact they’re not. Often, this is because people have moved house and haven’t thought to re-register with their new address.

"The deadline is looming and with just a few hours left to get people registered, we’re doing everything we can to make sure those voters aren't frozen out from having their say in this important election."


Full table of results
 

  Voted Not voted -registered Not voted -unregistered
Gender      
Male 68 21 11
Female 69 19 12
Age      
18-24 43 25 32
25-34 56 26 17
35-44 69 19 12
45-54 66 23 11
55-64 77 15 8
65-74 83 15 2
75+ 81 16 3
Tenure      
Own home outright 80 14 7
Own home on mortgage 72 18 9
Rented from local authority or Housing Association 51 37 12
Rented from private landlord 53 18 29
Thought they were registered  
No 0 10 90
Yes 70 20 10


Background

Previous studies have shown that electoral under-registration does not occur randomly within the electorate, but is disproportionately high within certain demographics.

One of the reasons identified for inaccuracy in electoral registers was people moving home and still being registered at their old address. The other side of this coin is that many such people are not (yet) registered at their new address. As such, demographics with larger proportions of home movers tend to have higher levels of under registration.

People are also likely are not to be registered to vote if they have no intention of voting. As a result, demographics associated with lower turnouts also tend to have lower levels of registration.

This analysis uses data from the latest British Election Study (BES) to provide breakdowns of non-registration by selected demographics.

Methodology

The BES is an address-based random probability survey, of eligible voters for Westminster elections in Great Britain. This is the highest possible quality of survey, as it approaches a genuinely random sample of the population, and makes repeated attempts to make contact with the person selected.

The BES is carried out after each general election. It includes a number of questions and, crucially for the purposes of this research, validation of reported voting and registration against the electoral register.

This validation is primarily for the purpose of determining which respondents have voted and which have not, as those who claim to have voted very often have not. However it can also be used to confirm that a respondent is indeed registered to vote at their address.

The 2017 Edition of the BES was conducted between June and October 2017, by the universities of Manchester, Oxford and Nottingham, with fieldwork by GfK, Kantar Public and NatCen.

The raw response data are weighted for unequal selection probabilities. They are then weighted for nonresponse bias to known demographic totals for the population (by age, gender, education, and region). The subset that consented to being checked against the marked electoral register are re-weighted to the same totals, and additionally weighted to the known election results and turnout.

Limitations

Some caveats apply to these estimates. Despite its very high quality, the BES is nevertheless a survey of a sample of the population and not a census, and as such it is subject to a margin of error.

Margins of error are greater for subsets, due to their smaller size. The margin of error for the full sample would be around ±2 percentage points, but larger for demographic subsets.

Not all respondents to the survey consented to having their details checked against the mocked electoral register. This reduces the sample size and increases the margin of error slightly. It may also introduce a small bias into the results, as people who did not consent to the validation appear to be slightly different –notably being a bit likelier to be unregistered – than those who did.

Finally, these estimates are for the Westminster electorate in Great Britain only, due to that being the scope of the BES.

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