The number of 18-year-olds registered to vote fell by almost half last year following changes to the electoral roll registration system. The dramatic fall, revealed by credit checking company Experian, sparked warnings from student groups that young people will be under-represented at the upcoming election. Experian obtains electoral roll data from local authorities when it checks credit applications. Analysis of this showed the number of ‘coming of age’ voters – those who turned 18 in previous year – steadily rising in the years since the last election, but then suffering a 47 per cent fall between 2013 and 2014. There were 511,352 18-year-olds registered to vote in December 2013, but this fell to just 272,995 last year. This pushed the total voter population into reverse as well. There were 41,692,818 people registered to vote in the UK in December compared to 42,709,134 in the same month the year before – a 2.4 per cent fall.
The Experian data also showed 318 out of 396 local authorities have seen a drop in the number of people registered to vote since 2013. Overall there are 220 local authorities that have seen a decrease in the number of registered voters since 2010.
Some 386 out of 396 local authorities have seen a drop in the number of newly eligible young people registering to vote since 2013.
The fall has been blamed on the introduction of a new electoral register. The new system requires every voter to register individually, rather than allowing one person in each household to register all those living at an address.