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Voter Registration Day: Surge in Millennial Registrations Could be Another Blow for Conservatives

In recent months hundreds of thousands of young people have registered to vote. A poor youth turnout was expected to favour the Conservatives

a voter placing a ballot paper in the ballot box at the polling station at Market Hall in Swadlincote, Derbyshire.
People have until 11.59pm on 16 April to register to vote in a series of elections taking place on 2 May. Photo: PA Images/Alamy

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A spike in voter registrations among millennials in recent weeks could be another blow for the already struggling Conservative Party ahead of the next General Election.

In the last 100 days to 14 April, over 300,000 people aged 25 to 34 signed up to vote, as have over 200,000 people aged under 25, official figures show.

A stronger and younger turnout at the polls is not expected to help the Conservatives who, according to some reports, may win fewer than 100 seats at the next election, due to take place between December and January 2025. The latest a Parliament can be dissolved for a General Election is on the fifth anniversary of the day it first met, that is 17 December for the current government. However, 25 working days are then allowed to prepare for the election, meaning it must take place by 28 January 2025.

More young people at the polls could mean a worse outcome for the Conservative Party and Rishi Sunak. Photo: Imageplotter/ Alamy

In February, the Resolution Foundation suggested that low turnout among millennial voters could help the Conservatives. Sophie Hale, Principal Economist at the foundation said that a “new age divide” was emerging in the UK: “Young non-graduates and non-homeowners, who tend to be poorer than the average millennial, are bucking the national swing towards Labour and are instead less likely to vote at all.”

The poll results come on Voter Registration Day. Brits have until 11.59pm on 16 April 2024 to register to vote in a series of elections on 2 May, including for the Mayor of London and London Assembly, local government, local authority mayoral elections, parish council, combined authority mayoral elections and Police and Crime Commissioner in England and Wales. Click here for further information. Registration for the General Election is due to take place later in the year.

Latest voter registration data shows a spike in young people registering to vote. Graph: Byline Times

In an effort to combat poor engagement by young voters, youth empowerment organisation, My Life My Say (MLMS) and Chatham House, has launched a campaign and got former Love Island star, Sharon Gaffka, onboard.

According to Electoral Commission data, less than half – 47% – of those aged 16-24 are registered to vote in a year when the public will get to vote to shape almost every level of public life. MLMS says this could be as many as four million young people.

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In a report by the Mirror, MLMS noted the deep irony in voter apathy among the young given they are more likely to vote in shows like Love Island, Big Brother and I’m A Celebrity than any other age group. Their research showed seven out of 10 young people aged 18-34 voted in a reality show in the past 12 months.

Gaffka, 28, a former civil servant turned Violence Against Women and Girls activist who went on Love Island Season 7, told the Mirror of the #YouAlreadyVoteSoVote campaign: “You voted for me to go on a date with Chuggs Wallis so now it’s time to vote for something off the screens – your democracy.

“I know it may feel like your vote doesn’t make a difference, but – just like in the Villa – it really can. It’s as simple as voting for Love Island, simply head online to register and it can be done in a matter of minutes.”

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The Byline Times revealed in February that more than 7.6 million eligible voters in England and Wales were missing from the electoral roll sparking concerns the scale of the registration gap could dramatically impact outcomes.

According to analysis by the Electoral Reform Society, the constituency with the highest number of unregistered voters is the Cities of London and Westminster – where 24,320 people, or 20.3% of the eligible population – are missing from the electoral roll.

The rest of the ‘bottom five’ worst-performing seats by proportion of missing voters are: Leeds Central and Headingley, Bristol Central, Sheffield Central, and Liverpool Riverside. All are missing about one-fifth of potential voters from their rolls.

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The poor registration figures come as voters this year have to show photo ID when they come to make their choice, in what may prove to be another barrier. Around two million people lack eligible forms of ID.

Initiatives by groups such as Shout Out UK and My Vote My Voice aim to bolster participation, particularly in under-represented communities. This effort mirrors the surge seen in 2019, when more than three million new registrations were recorded in the run-up to the General Election, compared to 2.3 million in the same period before the 2017 vote.

However, any surge is likely to put a strain on electoral registration officers, not least given the  high volume of duplicate registrations. There is no way for people to check online if they are already registered to vote, meaning many accidentally register twice. 

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Campaign groups including the ERS and Unlock Democracy are calling for a shift to ‘automatic voter registration’ (AVR) – a move they argue could transform levels of voter engagement in the UK. 

A YouGov and MRP poll on 3 April found that the Conservatives – if the country were to vote in a General Election the following day – would get 155 seats, down from a January projection of 169. Labour, the poll found, would win 403.

See the numbers of voters missing in your consistuency here. 



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