Scotland politics

Call for elections reform over 'missing' voters

ballot box Image copyright Getty Images

Campaigners have warned that a snap UK election could leave hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland unable to vote.

It follows research showing that the register of people entitled to vote was out of date.

The Electoral Reform Society said the issue could affect up to 745,000 Scots who were either not on the list of were registered at the wrong address.

They are calling for an overhaul of the registration system.

A study by the Electoral Commission found that 16% of eligible voters were not properly registered at their current address for national polls.

Young people and private renters

And 13% of the entries which were on the register were found to be inaccurate.

How to register to vote in a general election

The Electoral Commission study looked at both the parliamentary and local government registers. In Scotland, the former were 84% complete and 87% accurate, while the latter were 83% complete and 86% accurate.

From the figures, the watchdog estimated that between 630,000 and 890,000 people who were eligible to be on the local government rolls were not properly registered, while up to 745,000 entries on these registers were not accurate. Similar estimates for parliamentary elections were not available.

People under the age of 35 and those who rent rather than own their homes were the most likely to be missing from the registers.

Sir John Holmes, chairman of the Electoral Commission, said the figures were "shocking".

He said: "Local authorities do a great job in the circumstances, and the UK's governments are taking important steps to improve the current system through reform of the annual canvass, but more still needs to be done to make registration easier for everyone and, crucially, to help under-registered groups, such as young people and private renters, make sure they are registered."

And Jess Garland from the Electoral Reform Society said the figures "should sound the alarm for anyone who cares about democracy".

She added: "Hundreds of thousands of potential voters in Scotland are effectively missing from the electoral roll, representing a major barrier to political equality and democratic engagement. That means any snap election will be on the basis of an flawed franchise."

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