A polling station during the Scottish referendum last year
A massive surge on the final day of registration saw almost half a million people sign up to vote in the general election yesterday.
It is the first time voters have been able to register to vote online and yesterday was the last chance for potential voters to register before the election on May 7.
The overwhelming majority of the 485,000 people who registered online were young voters. 137,400 people under the age of 24 registered to vote on 20 April alone – around 16 times the number of people of pension age (5,303 2,893) registering on that same day.
Apathy among young voters has long been a challenge for political parties, and their perceived lack of interest and real failure to turn up at the polls have led some to argue many political policies and incentives are unfairly skewed towards older constituents who do actually vote.
The 25 to 34 young adult age group also saw strong growth with 152,273 people signing up in a single day using the electoral commission’s online system.
New laws on registration of voters mean that a “head of household” is no longer allowed to register all voters in one house, but instead each individual must register individually. Similarly universities will no longer be able to act as “head of household” for all of their live-in students. The electoral commission describes the previous system as an “out-of-date Victorian” method of registering voters.
According to the office of national statistics more than 800,000 voters had disappeared from the electoral roll in 2014 after the registration method came into effect. However these do not include those who have registered since December 1, 2014.
The figures have shown that constituencies with the biggest fall have a strong university presence. The largest drop was in Cardiff Central which saw an 18.3 per cent drop, followed by Liverpool Riverside, Newcastle upon Tyne East, Nottingham South and Ceredigion.
However the electoral commission believes that this will be outweighed by young people choosing to take five minutes to register online instead of being put off by having to fill in a time consuming form and physically posting it, with hundreds of thousands of new voters signed up through the new system.