Here’s what I found when trying to get people to register to vote

Leo Harverson spent Saturday helping Islanders who were not already registered to vote to get registered, so their voice can be heard in the 2017 General Election next month. Here’s how he found the experience.

using ipad

Leo Harverson – who has been pivotal in gathering momentum for voter registrations on the Isle of Wight – shares how the first day went. Ed

Here’s a challenging statement:

“Getting people registered to vote is of greater importance than whether people actually vote once they are registered.”

On Saturday I voluntarily spent time encouraging and assisting Island people to get registered.

It was an interesting experience – more on that in a moment – but firstly, here are some of the reasons that motivated me to do it:

  1. In simple terms, if people are registered they are more likely to vote, and at least able to do so.
  2. At present each party or candidate fights over a limited number of those who are registered and already vote. The incentive for the parties is to try and win over people who vote for their rivals – it means a vote is gained for one party at the expense of a vote for their rival. So new names on the electoral register gives candidates and parties greater reason to ensure they have a broader appeal, rather than fighting over the same old faces.
  3. It may seem obvious, but the number of people who turn out to vote is used to calculate election results. Turnout is only an effective measure if it reflects the number of those who are eligible to be registered, not just those who are. If there are people who are not included, the concept of turnout is somewhat irrelevant.

Back to yesterday
Overall, the people I spoke with are already registered. However I helped two people register (one for the first time), and I provided a direct link for several others to register themselves. I also passed on registration information for someone who has no fixed abode.

Both of those I directly helped to register were male and under 35 years old (one was about to turn 18 shortly before the forthcoming election). These two cases are highly significant because the majority of those who said they weren’t registered (and didn’t want to register) were male and under 35 years old.

“Political parties were to be trusted”
Several people told me that they were not registered to vote because they did not feel any of the political parties were to be trusted.

They saw their lack of registration as protest, not apathy. Worse still, some people told me they felt the parties weren’t interested in them as individuals.

The distinct feeling I had from my experience on Saturday was that if people are not registered, the parties and candidates have no reason to bother trying. They too are apathetic.

Engaging people isn’t hard
If I could emphasise one thing I learned it would be this: Engaging people isn’t hard – I can do it.

Challenge yourself to find someone who isn’t registered and help him or her to do it.

Image: Brad Flickinger under CC BY 2.0

Opinion Piece

Sunday, 14th May, 2017 8:06pm



Filed under: Election, Island-wide, Isle of Wight Opinion Pieces

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. profoundlife

    14.May.2017 9:03pm

    “if people are registered they are more likely to vote.” That made me chuckle. How many people vote who aren’t registered?!

    Honestly, though, good work that you’re doing, Leo.

  2. holdmyheadinmyhands

    14.May.2017 9:27pm

    Loads of people registered in my ward …. they still don’t vote ….. in fact people I’ve help support over a long period and on various projects and still didn’t vote

  3. Mark L Francis

    15.May.2017 10:09am

    Old people vote & young people don’t. And that is why the benefits system gives you more if you are old but pays you less if you are under 25.
    If you don’t vote the politicians will not care about you.

    • Another one who pretends that pensioners should not receive the provision for retirement that they funded throughout their working lives. This does not constitute a “benefit” in the sense that you use the word.

      Anyone under the age of 25 who has never worked for a living (and therefore has not contributed to the system) is in no position to demand money from others as of right.

      By the way, it is hypocritical if you cannot be bothered to get off your backside for a few minutes to vote and then complain about the result.

      • The entity formerly known as Prince Suruk (the Slayer)

        15.May.2017 4:18pm

        The Government of Theresa May would like to thank you for your contributions over the years.

        You are now a burden on society and surplus to requirements.


        • Such animosity.

          I took issue with a self-entitled character who would rather have others give him their money than earn it himself. Leave your knee-jerk reaction aside and and ask yourself how this attitude can possibly be justified?

          A burden on society……..oh, the irony.
          For your information, I am not old enough to qualify for a taxpayer-funded pension. I have, however, retired on a pension funded entirely by myself, and continue to pay tax to fund those less fortunate.

          I trust that you would like to thank the governments of Theresa May and her predecessors for passing my contributions on to people you deem worthy.

          For the future, consider engaging brain before insulting people of whom you know nothing.

          • The entity formerly known as Prince Suruk (the Slayer)

            15.May.2017 7:07pm


            Slight problem with reading comprehension here.

            That was, pretty clearly, parody on our uncaring Tory Government.

            Maybe your brain wasn’t fully engaged, eh?

          • Steve Goodman

            15.May.2017 11:09pm

            ‘Such animosity.

            I take issue with self-entitled characters and corporations who would rather take taxpayer’s money than earn it themselves. Leave your knee-jerk reaction aside and and ask yourself how this market manipulating attitude can possibly be justified?

            For your information, I too am not old enough to qualify for a taxpayer-funded pension, and I too have retired on a pension funded largely by myself, and continue to pay tax, and charities, and give directly to help those less fortunate.

            I trust that you would like to thank Mrs May and others for passing my subsidies and bail-outs on to greedy and irresponsible ‘privatise profits and socialise losses’ businesses you deem worthy.

            For the future, please consider engaging brain before becoming insulting again.’

          • @ Steve Goodman

            Always nice to hear from a responsible and self-reliant member of society.

            However, I do wonder why you are telling me this.

            Neither I, nor my friend with the silly name, has accused YOU of being “a burden on society”.

          • The entity formerly known as Prince Suruk (the Slayer)

            16.May.2017 4:19pm

            He was parodying your earlier post.

            Do they not teach parody in Slough?

          • It is a pity that you were taught parody but certainly not basic politeness.

            I still await an apology for your lying slur.

          • The entity formerly known as Prince Suruk (the Slayer)

            16.May.2017 11:13pm

            Takes two to tango, buddy.

  4. garageelfiniow

    15.May.2017 10:49am

    Having worked in finacial services (in the past) I can confirm that there are a great many people who only join the electoral role because of the benefits it brings when trying to obtain finance – voting or caring about who controls their day to day lives is of little interest.

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