SNP MSP Derek Mackay has today added his own concerns to that expressed by the Electoral Commission over the UK Government’s decision bring forward the end of the transition to Individual Electoral Registration (IER) by a year. A move which could result in people across Renfrewshire having difficulties voting in next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.
The date for the end of the transition to IER is currently set out in law as December 2016. However, the UK Government has moved the date forward to December 2015. This is despite warnings from the Electoral Commission that the move will see some voters taken off the register who will be unable to vote in elections in May 2016, unless they re-register.
Commenting, Renfrewshire North & West MSP Derek Mackay said:
“One of the great successes of the Referendum was the level of voter participation that swept across every community in Renfrewshire in the weeks and months before polling day.
“Never before have so many people in Renfrewshire signed up to have their say in the democratic process. I will never forget the queues of people, of all ages, waiting to register to vote for the first time.
“That interest and political enthusiasm carried into May’s General Election when the turnout in Scotland was higher than the rest of the UK, making Scotland’s people the most politically engaged electorate on these islands.
“It is vitally important that we aim to retain that level of voter participation and engagement and that it is not put at risk by the actions of this UK Government.
“The Electoral Commission is absolutely right to raise real concerns about this move which could disenfranchise as many as 230,000 people in Scotland. For anyone in Renfrewshire and across Scotland to be prevented from voting in the Scottish elections next year due to an order of the UK Government would be completely unacceptable.
“The UK Government needs to abandon these plans immediately – and should do everything they can to increase voter registration and turnout rather than risking disenfranchising thousands of people.”