Newcastle East constituency one of the worst places in the UK for voters falling off the electoral register

A Newcastle constituency is one of the worst in the UK for voters falling off the electoral register.

In the last year more than 9,000 potential voters have dropped off the list in Newcastle East, with only Cardiff Central and Liverpool Riverside having worse figures.

A spokesman for the BiteTheBallot campaign group which is fighting to get more people on the electoral register before the May general election said the figure was “an absolute disgrace”.

The controversial switch from household to individual electoral registration has caused a great deal of problems for local authorities whose electoral registration officers are continuing to run into problems with their electoral management software systems.

The number of people on the register has dropped yet the Government and the Electoral Commission don’t have a plan to deal with this and it’s extremely worrying,” said the BiteTheBallot spokesman.

It was revealed last week that local authorities had been given an extra £20m in a bid to solve this.

However the spokesman was dismissive of the move, saying it would be spent mostly on sending out letters.

He said: “It’s about getting people into the community to engage with them and get them interested in politics and registering for the vote.”

The spokesman revealed the group has a Community Engagement Officer, Megan Patterson, who is working with Durham County Council and visiting local schools, sixth form colleges and youth clubs.

“She is doing stellar work in getting people registered. It’s labour intensive but it works.”

According to the Office for National Statistics there were 58,557 people registered to vote in Newcastle East as of December 2014.

This is an 13.8% decrease on the 67,945 people who were registered to vote in the constituency on December 1, 2013, the third biggest decrease for any of the 591 parliamentary constituencies in England Wales and Northern Ireland.

The ONS estimates there are 84,394 people aged 18 and above living in Newcastle East which means that only 69.4% of the potentially eligible voting population is in fact registered to vote.

However this percentage is likely to be higher as the population estimates also include people who are not eligible to vote such as those born overseas.

Ironically not far behind Newcastle in numbers falling off the electoral register is City of Durham where the BiteTheBallot community engagement officer is working.

It has seen an 11.5% drop in the year from 73,036 to 64,614.

Across the whole of Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and County Durham there was a fall of 3.8% in the number of people registered to vote with declines in all but one constituency.

Source – Sunday Sun, 01 Mar 2015

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