HUNDREDS of thousands of Scots face missing their say in next year's Holyrood election following changes introduced to the Electoral Register to thwart voter fraud.


Almost a quarter of residents in the country's biggest city have so far failed to switch over to the new system of individual voter registration, the transition to which is due to come to a close in the next few weeks.

Early figures show a massive drop off in those who have signed up compared with the Electoral Register at the time of the Referendum.

Under the new system, which the UK Government says offers better protection against electoral fraud and is more convenient, people must register to vote individually rather than one member of a household filling in a form.

But four months since the start of the transition, in Glasgow alone around 100,000 people have still not confirmed personal details and face being removed from the Electoral Register.

Although the numbers nationally were always expected to drop from the 4,285,323 who signed up for the Referendum, the 22% drop in Glasgow has caused concern.

Other councils contacted by The Herald said their registers were currently in a state of flux with the final tally being published on February 27.

But if the present figure was repeated across Scotland around 800,000 people who signed up for the Referendum may not be eligible to vote at the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.

Labour leader Ed Miliband last week complained that around 900,000 people across all of England and Wales, which began the changeover months before Scotland, were now missing from the Register.

No existing elector will be removed from the registers ahead of the 2015 General Election as a result of the move to individual registration.

Local authorities will now be required to again contact all residents in their areas with reminders.

Electoral Register in September with a final reminder to confirm their personal details with an address and national insurance number.

Willie Sullivan, of the Electoral Reform Society, said the organisation had concerns over the impact of the new system changeover on the 2016 poll. But he added a significant drop was always expected post-Referendum.

He said: "We've been saying this was always going to be a difficult transition and enough resources should have been set aside for it. The grassroots and non-party groups who drove the registration in the run up to the Referendum should've been involved here.

"But there's a difference between the Referendum and other elections in that people had a stake and knew their vote had influence. Without that you lose the appetite to sign up and politics needs to empower many of these groups of people. For many not even registering is a rational decision."

As is the case with Mr Miliband's concerns, one of the biggest issues in Glasgow is student and transient populations.

Less than 65% of those in the west end and city centre on the outgoing register have the correct details to be moved across or provided the council with proof of address and identity.

Glasgow City Council's electoral registration officer, Hugh Munro said: "Glasgow and the whole of Scotland have seen high levels of registration in recent years, reaching a peak ahead of the referendum in September and it is in everyone's interests that voters stay engaged and stay registered.

"We have been able to transfer the vast majority of people directly onto the new system, but some people still need to take action and provide us with more information.

"The new system makes that easier than before, with voters able to register online for the first time but we are also sending out reminders this week and working hard to improve registration among groups that can, traditionally, be harder to reach."