Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett will tell a community conference in Hackney on Wednesday (4 November) that the government should be making it easier for people to vote rather than putting up barriers.
Prior to government changes last year, the system allowed one household member to sign up everyone living at the property to the electoral register. Now, every person living there will have to sign up individually or face being turned away at the polling station.
These changes are expected to have a profound impact, with 10 million people nationwide needing to re-confirm their details and in Hackney more than 40,000 people will be stripped of the right to vote unless they reregister.
Bennett is expected to say:
“Hackney is a highly appropriate place to launch this campaign, with one in four voters here at risk of being disenfranchised by the government’s plan. It shouldn’t be up to civil society to inform voters about the risk of being disenfranchised – the government should not be taking this step, and should be acting to make registration far easier and indeed automatic. But in the meantime, we can take inspiration from historic voter registration drives around the world, notably in the southern United States.
We can ensure that voters can have their say in the 2016 and future London elections, we can ensure that any redrawing of electoral boundaries isn’t gerrymandering based on inaccurate figures, by launching this drive as we are today. Politics should be something that you do, not that’s done to you. Voting is only the start of political engagement, but it is a critical, foundational start – let’s make sure first that everyone has the chance to vote, then ensure they’re offered a fair voting system, and inspirational new policies that inspires people to vote.”
The Green Party narrowly lost out on finishing second in the two Hackney constituencies at the 2015 General Election and the Green Party candidate came third in 2012 London Mayoral election. This year’s candidate Sian Berry is aiming to increase the party’s vote.