The Labour party is claiming that millions of potential voters will soon be missing from the electoral register, following the government's bringing forward the switch from household to individual voter registration. Under the new system, people must now individually register to vote, where formerly one member of a household filled in a form for everyone resident at a particular address.
Labour is saying that a disproportionately large number of its supporters will be left off the new electoral rolls. The new system has been rolling out across England, Wales and Scotland since last year and is due to be fully in place by December. Labour claims that by ending the transition a whole year in advance of the original December 2016 deadline, the Conservatives are gerrymandering before next summer's elections for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and London mayor.
The Cabinet Office said that the new deadline was simply to ensure voting was as fraud-free as possible. However, Labour claimed the move was a "cynical attempt to rig the system". The party says that individuals and families that rent their homes privately, together with voters from ethnic minorities and young people, are among the categories whose members are most likely to be missing from the transfers to the new electoral rolls. The party says that large numbers of its supporters fall into these categories.
Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn will speak out against the way the new system is being implemented at a student rally in Leicester on 24 October, amid claims that students are most at risk of disenfranchisement.
Meanwhile, in a BBC interview Labour peer Lord Falconer claimed the situation was "very bad", and went on to detail what he saw as the potential outcome: "The consequence of this is going to be that you're going to find, for example, in inner city constituencies, or constituencies with big representations of black, minority ethnic groups, they are going to be underrepresented in Parliament."
However, John Penrose, minister for constitutional reform, stated that the government had been conducting checks for 18 months and that everyone who was not on the register had been contacted no less than nine times.
"Every single genuine elector who's out there will have been confirmed and put on the register," he said. "The only ones therefore taken off will be people who've either moved house, or died, or in some cases never existed, because they were put on the register fraudulently."
He added that it made good sense to "clean up the register".