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Thursday 22 April 2010

A Growing Electorate

Something is happening to the electorate: it’s growing, and according to this piece in today’s Guardian, this is particularly noticeable in marginal seats. The kinds of percentage points being discussed – into double figures – would be easily enough to cause seats to change hands. And it seems this surge in registration may be coming on the back of last week’s first Leaders’ Debate, which was won convincingly by Nick Clegg.

So far, so interesting, but one further development has been noted in the Guardian article, and that is an increase in postal voting, with some constituencies seeing their postal vote double. And it is postal voting that has been at the heart of some of the wilder accusations of vote fraud in the recent past: Labour seeing off the SNP in Scotland recently was swiftly translated into posters and commenters in the blogosphere asserting that Pa Broon and his pals had fiddled it, though no credible evidence was forthcoming.

So I was surprised that the postal vote increase had not been more widely circulated, especially among the Tory cheerleaders: nothing like getting your excuses ready beforehand. The Guardian piece quotes one Labour source on postal voting, and if that party can get a few thousand “in the bank” for any constituency where their MP has a small majority, the chance of holding on is that much better.

And as if that news isn’t bad enough for the Tories, the increase in registration appears to be coming disproportionately from the young: a survey found 40% of enquiries to be from the 18-24 age range. Not only is this group showing more interest in the Lib Dems, they also tend not to take much notice of newspapers and their hatchet jobs.

So that’s another part of the electorate off the radar, off limits to Rupe and his troops, and all the rest of the Grubstreet rabble. Good.

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