Renter Registration

Sep 21, 2014

I set up a quick website to act as a portal for renters to the gov.uk electoral registration page - rentersvote.co.uk

Thought behind this: I had problems voting this May which I've gone into more detail on here(short story: moved late, was registered, administrative screw-up, couldn't vote - but long story is more fun) and I've been thinking about the problem of renters and elections in general.

The gulf in registration rates between private renters and homeowners is huge (56 % vs 87%) - the political process is vastly weighted in favour of current homeowners for various reasons but this bit seems like a fairly tackle-able handicap.

Registration drives are not really a thing in the UK (while being huge in the US), the annual canvass does a fairly good job at finding people who are in the same place year after year - but is terrible at finding the renters who are in a different place each time (data matching experiments have been equally unpromising for renters).

The new online voter registration system is a massive improvement on the previous way you had to register out of cycle (which to remind you: you had to print off a pdf, write down all your stuff, post it, where someone else would re-type it in) - this is now a five minute job anywhere with an internet connection.

This gives a point of an entry for a sectional registration drive. A scheme targeted at getting private renters on the register should be able to make an impact on that number.

There's a digital divide issue that'll need to be addressed at some point (registrations forms are still printable and I created a very basic flyer as an intermediary thing) but as digital is easier and the hole in renter registration has a lot of young people who (technically) use the internet there's a lot of scope in digital before needing to expand offline.

This increase in renter registration would need to be converted into greater salience for renter-friendly policies, but that's a slightly harder problem.

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