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    24 March, 2005

    Vanishing Voters

    A report in the Guardian says that voters are vanishing from poorer and less affluent constituencies, usually held by Labour.

    In other words, fewer people register to vote in poorer wards.

    There is, I suspect, little new in this, but it is a problem that has been accelerating. There was something like a 10% drop in registered electors in the Rhondda between the 2001 General Election and my 2003 Assembly election. This was not, as far as we can tell, a reflection of people moving out of the constituency. Rather it reflected that fact that people were not being chased up hard enough to register their vote, despite the legal sanctions in force against those who do not. Councils have no effective financial incentive to chase up electors either.

    During the 2004 Council elections, our candidates regularly found large numbers of people in some streets not registered. I know that attempts have been made by Rhonda Cynon Taff Council to chase up electors since the new Council took office.

    This failure to register ultimately affects the distribution of seats and could lead to the loss of a Valleys seat within the next Boundary Commission review period if action is not taken.

    This is a different issue from voter participation per se, though obviously it is closely related. The best examination of voter participation is I think the Harvard University 'Vanishing Voter' project. Their final report was issued in February, and noted a significant increase in the number of young voters in the 2004 Presidential campaign up by 5 million since 2000. (The highest young voter turnout since 1968).

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

    Author's editorial policy: This blog does not publish anonymous comments, unless they are really witty and I like them. If you have something to say, then have the courage of your convictions and use your name or an identifiable alias. Even then I reserve the right not to publish comments that are malicious, defamatory, stupid, pointlessly cynical or boring. Any of the statements or comments made above should be regarded as personal and not necessarily those of the National Assembly for Wales, any constituent part or connected body.