Elections to our Redbridge Council and for UK members of the European Parliament are to be held on Thursday 22 May. I urge all British, Commonwealth or European Union residents to register to vote before the 6th May deadline in order to be able to take part.
There is, however, a real long term threat to our democracy and a risk that many in Redbridge will be denied the vote in future elections. While the changes won’t affect the forthcoming local or European elections they could have a big impact in any boundary review to be held after the May 2015 General Election and in the resources available for our local council and public services .
This threat comes from changes to the way voters are registered. As part of the move to individual rather than household voter registration, the Government conducted a dry-run matching individual voters records to other sources, including benefits and welfare payments.
In Redbridge 48608 residents were not matched. Across London, the figure is almost 1.8 million. People not matched will have to register individually or else will not be able to vote on polling day.
The kind of voters who'll lose their votes in London are young people, students, renters, the poor and the marginalised. These are groups who are already often on the fringes of society - we should be doing all we can to get them involved in democracy not make it more difficult.
I am very concerned lack of awareness of the changes means that millions could be stripped of the vote without realising.
I will be pressing Redbridge Council to do more to ensure residents do not lose out on their future right to vote.