Individual voter registration as presently constituted is an attack on democracy dressed up by the Conservatives and Liberal Parties as a change which will make it easier to vote. What is happening in Beeston right now is happening across Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire and every other part of England, especially our large towns and cities — the number of registered voters is actually falling. Why? Because it has never been harder to become a new voter or to remain on the electoral register if you are an existing voter. I know the latter is true because of my own exclusion from the electoral register after fifty years and, as of this moment, I do not know whether my name has been added, having provided additional information about myself.
The above data for the four Beeston wards speaks for itself. A 16% fall in Beeston Central voter nos. and a 11.5% fall in Beeston North.
Broxtowe Borough Council's Electoral Team supplied me with all the information in their possession, but explained that digital copies of the electoral registers for 2011 and 2013 have been deposited in the Nottinghamshire Archives. The trouble is that the archive is closed whilst a new extension is built and I would have to pay for a member of Archive staff to access the digital register and extract the information I am requesting. So much for the wonders of technology.
With a growing student population in Beeston, a good few of the missing voters will be students, but new voters of all ages also need reminding that only they can apply for their vote. No longer can anyone else do it on their behalf.
Hundreds of thousands of people will turn up to vote in the General Election (and local elections) only to be told 'Sorry, your name is not on the Electoral Register, so you do not have a vote'. It will be a bad day for democracy, whatever the result, if one person is prevented from voting. The Hope Not Hate campaign have just posted a report on their website.
I have pinched this image from the homepage of Broxtowe Borough Council's website. Thursday 5 February this week is National Voter Registration Day and the Council are doing their bit, by going to Tesco and Sainsbury's in Beeston on Wednesday (Sainsbury's am, Tesco pm) and Thursday (Tesco am, Sainsbury's pm) this week. It is a pity the day has not been better publicised nationally. I get the feeling that the Government and the Electoral Commission are doing what they have to and no more.
The Labour Party and some student organisations are planning to organise a voter registration campaign in Beeston and I have told the Labour Party I will actively support their campaign. As and when I learn more, I will place a link on this blog.
Come the 2020 General Election voting will probably be even harder, as there is talk of requiring all of us to produce proof of personal identity before a ballot paper is given to us.
Beeston, like every other community, is in the front line when it comes to protecting our individual right to vote. Conservatives and Liberals are condemned as the anti-democrats they are by the way they treat us. Oh, they will protest, but make no mistake they want a right-wing state where socialists and other dissenters are excluded from voting.
There is every chance that the campaign to win the 2020 General Election will begin the day after the 2015 General Election. I hope so. For what despair I feel at the moment is tempered by a belief that such will be the injustice of the election result that many will rise up determined to ensure that the 2020 General Election becomes a date with change and destiny.