Labour has accused David Cameron of attempting to rig the electoral system, after the government ruled it would adopt a new electoral register this year even though up to 1.9 million voters on the old list are still missing from it. The government said it would adopt the individual register from December this year, overruling the advice of the Electoral Commission, which said it should not be implemented until December 2016. There are currently 1.9 million more voters on the old household register – under which one person was responsible for registering everyone in the home – than the new individual register. The discrepancy has raised concerns that many of these people will lose the right to vote unless they re-register before elections in May 2016.
These include elections for the Scottish parliament, Welsh national assembly, the Northern Ireland assembly, the mayor of London and London assembly, and local elections in England.
The Electoral Commission said it expected the total of 1.9 million to reduce significantly after an annual canvass has been completed over the summer, but the scale of the potential problem will not be known until after that point.
Jenny Watson, chair of the Electoral Commission, said the new registration system had gone well so far but the watchdog was disappointed in the decision to speed up its implementation.