THE number of 16 and 17-year-olds on Preston’s electoral register has fallen by more than 40 per cent following changes to the registration process.
While the teenagers are too young to vote, they can be added to the system so they are automatically eligible to vote when they turn 18.
But figures show a 41 per cent drop since new rules were brought in requiring voters to register individually, which city leaders describe as “disturbing”.
Since Individual Electoral Registration was introduced, figures show that in Preston there are 4,728 fewer people of all ages on the electoral list.
The number of 16 and 17-year-olds on the electoral register in the city had dropped from 1,033 to 612 by December, 10 months after the rules had been introduced in February last year.
In total, the number of people eligible to vote has gone from about 100,355 to 95,627 in Preston since the changes, which represents an overall drop of 4.7 per cent.
Coun John Swindells, deputy leader of Preston Council, said: “I think it is disturbing that, particularly, young people are not getting involved and it seems to be affecting them disproportionately.”
Coun Swindells, who also represents University ward, said it was important to engage with young people to explain the consequences of not being registered to vote.
He said: “You do struggle to get a loan for a car if you don’t get involved.
“If you’re not on the electoral roll you have great difficulty in getting credit and I don’t think all young people realise.
“It does affect every part of their lives, mortgages and cars, and everything you want to borrow money for.”
Work has now begun to register students in particular, with the council working alongside the University of Central Lancashire.
The project, led by UCLan Students’ Union president Lee Macneall, will employ students to explain the benefits of voter registration to other students through on-campus activities, door-to-door visits and social media activities. Flash mobs and videos are also being created to boost the campaign.