Electoral register spam mail will "stop people joining"
MORE and more people will take themselves off the electoral register thanks to spam and junk mail.
That's according to a campaigner who lays the blame for the issue at the feet of Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper.
Mr Harper is also Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform in the Coalition Government and has been urged to re-address the 'opt-out' nature of the register.
John Barrie, who lives in Devon but has elderly relatives in the Forest plagued by junk post, wants the register changed to an 'opt-in' option for anyone happy to have their details shared with third parties.
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He said: "Labour were minded to abolish the edited register, being cognisant of its dangers, however, the General Election interrupted the consultation stage.
"The Electoral Commission, the Association of Electoral Administrators, the Information Commission et al, all want the register abolished, essentially for reasons of data protection, yet, the Coalition Government decided to retain it.
"The electorate will simply elect not to register themselves as, over time, they become increasingly aware that their personal data is being sold and misused in this unsolicited manner.
"Surely, that is totally contrary to the purpose of an electoral register, where the remit should be to collate the maximum number of electorate and to use the information solely for electioneering purposes?
"The edited register disincentivises the voter from registering themselves."
The previous Government consulted on the future of the register in 2009 but did not publish a response to its consultation before leaving office.
Mr Harper has been involved in various discussions about its future since then and said, after "careful consideration", it had been decided the register would remain as it is.
He said: "The overwhelming majority of responses to the previous Government's consultation on the Edited Register favoured its retention because of the significant wider social and economic benefits it provides.
"For example, it is often used by those who've been adopted when seeking to trace their birth families. I've seen no convincing evidence that the edited register acts as a disincentive to register to vote – after all, it is very straightforward for anyone to opt out if they choose to do so."