The government’s attempt to rush through changes to the electoral registration system, which could result in up to 1.9 million people disappearing from the roll, is to be challenged in the House of Lords. In a rerun of the battles in the last parliament to redraw the constituency boundaries, the Liberal Democrats are opposing the changes, calling them “an outrageous gerrymander”. The voters likely to fall off the register are mainly in inner-city areas and less likely to vote Conservative. The Electoral Commission had advised the government in June to spend another year transferring voters on the old household-based register to the new individual register, but ministers want to short-circuit the process so that it is completed by December 2015, and not the end of 2016. The commission says there are 1.9 million names on the household register that are not on the individual register.
The cleaned-up register will form the basis of the parliamentary constituency boundary review to be conducted before the 2020 election that will both reduce the number of seats and see a redrawing of the boundaries in favour of the Conservatives.
The government argues that if the 1.9 million names are kept on the register for a further year, there would be “an unacceptable risk to the accuracy of the register”.
The new boundary review is due to start in 2016, and will lead to fewer urban constituencies.