New inquiry: Voter engagement

16 January 2014

Political and Constitutional Reform Committee announce inquiry into voter engagement


Since 1945, turnout for general elections in the UK has fallen from a high of 83.9% in 1950 to a low of 59.4% in 2001. Turnout for the 2010 general election was 65.1%—higher than the previous two general elections, but still the third lowest since the introduction of universal suffrage. Turnout at the last general election was also low compared with turnout at the last parliamentary elections in other European Union countries.

There is also evidence that a significant number of people in the UK are not registered to vote, with the most recent estimates indicating that the electoral register was between 85 and 87% complete. This would mean that approximately 6.5 million people are missing from the electoral register.

In light of this, on 16 January 2014, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee agreed to conduct an inquiry into voter registration and turnout in the UK.

Terms of reference for the inquiry

The Committee welcomes written evidence on any or all of the following questions:

Reasons for and impact of low voter engagement

  • What are the main factors that have contributed to low voter turnout in recent UK elections?
  • What are the main factors that affect voter registration?
  • To what extent does the public’s perception of MPs, Parliament, the Government and events such as Prime Minister’s questions affect voter registration and turnout?
  • What role does the media play in this context?
  • What socioeconomic factors affect registration and turnout and what, if anything, can we learn from this about how to improve voter registration and turnout?
  • What are the costs to society of low voter registration and turnout?

Improving voter turnout

  • What are the principal ways in which voter registration and turnout could be improved?
  • What lessons can be learnt from other countries where voter registration and turnout is higher?
  • To what extent could electoral reform, rebuilding political parties or changes to party funding improve public engagement and voter turnout?
  • In what ways could new technologies be used to encourage people to vote?
  • What would be the advantages and disadvantages of allowing voters to register on the day of an election?
  • How can arrangements for British citizens living abroad to register for and vote in elections in the UK be improved?

How to respond

The Committee's original deadline for written submissions has now passed,.

If you intend to make a submission and require further time, please contact Edward Faulkner on 020 7219 0772 or

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