National Voter Registration Drive

Are young people engaged enough in politics and democracy? National Voter Registration Drive (1-7 February) aims to increase voter registration among the young – something that could also improve their chances of getting credit and a wide range of online services.

Bite The Ballot, a youth-led grassroots campaign formed in 2010, runs National Voter Registration Drive, and last year’s campaign saw a world-record breaking 441,500 people registered to vote.

Are the young registering to vote?
New Experian research has found that the number of people in the UK who will turn 18 this year on the electoral roll fell by 1.69 per cent compared to 2015’s coming of age voters.  56.7% of local authorities have seen the number fall this year.

The figures also found that an estimated 1.17 million UK 18-year-olds have a Facebook account[1], nearly four times as many as the 307,000 who have joined the electoral roll this year.

Recent news also suggests that since the IER (Individual Electoral Registration System) was introduced last year an estimated 800,000 people (1.8% of voters) have dropped off the electoral register, with the highest shrinkage coming in areas with a high student population. Previously, students in hall of residences may have been block registered by the university.

In the 2015 General Election, only 43% of 18-24 year-olds voted – by far the lowest of all age groups.  Experian research the same year found that one in three 18 to 24-year-olds are not registered on the electoral roll - with many unaware of the impact on everything from mortgages and identity protection to passport applications.

How can registering to vote help your credit score?
Even if you have an excellent history of managing credit, not being registered on the electoral roll could, in some cases, lead to you being refused credit.

Here are 5 things you should know about registering to vote:

  1. Doing it can be an advantage for your financial future, because lenders use the information on your credit report to help confirm your name, address and where you’ve lived before. This info usually has to be up to date before they are willing to offer a mortgage, a loan or any other form of financial account.
  2.  Not being registered could cause a delay when you apply for credit, while the lenders confirm your details some other way. With some lenders it can even hurt the credit score they give you, and some applications may even be turned down.
  3. If you are living at a temporary address, it’s also possible to use your parents’ address for things like the electoral roll and as a base for your credit agreements. This might even be safer, in terms of the risk of identity fraud, especially if your temporary address has shared access.
  4. Once you’ve registered, it may take a little while for this information to appear on your credit report, as councils usually process updates to the electoral roll once a month and send the information to the credit reference agencies like Experian.  These updates can also be suspended for a few months if a council does an ‘annual canvass’, where they carry out an audit of all households. If you register to vote for the first time or at a new address, your credit report should automatically be updated within around a month, but it could be worth checking with your local authority to make sure.
  5. If you are unsure whether you are registered or not, or would like to register for the first time, visit About My Vote  or update your details on the electoral register at Gov.uk.

[1] Social media user figures from GlobalWebInsight.

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