The one thing we all should do now ahead of the most important election in a generation – leader comment

Before you can vote, you must register
Before you can vote, you must register
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Up to 9.4 million are not registered to vote in the UK, according to the Electoral Reform Society.

Next month’s general election is likely to be one of the most important in modern British history. Never before has so much depended on the outcome.

A majority for Boris Johnson’s Conservatives will likely result in the UK’s departure from the European Union under the terms of his Withdrawal Agreement, followed by hurried negotiations of trade deals with the EU, US and numerous other nations.

A majority for a coalition of opposition parties could result in a second EU referendum, but the all-important question and the possible answers would still have to be decided – would no-deal and remain be on the ticket, for example?

And amid all this is the SNP’s demand for a second independence referendum, something which Boris Johnson has ruled out but his Scottish Secretary Alister Jack yesterday appeared to suggest could be up for discussion depending on the outcome of the Scottish Parliament election in 2021.

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So the membership of the House of Commons, the individuals who will make the big decisions, is vital. As this parliament has amply demonstrated, it is important to know the stance taken by each individual MP as it is no longer possible to simply rely on party political affiliations.

Voters need to scrutinise the opinions of each candidate to ensure they vote for the person who best represents their views. Will they be loyal to a fault or rebel against their party leader?

But before assessing those seeking our support there is, of course, something that we all must do – register to vote.

According to the Electoral Reform Society, up to 9.4 million people have not yet done this.

The society’s Willie Sullivan called for a “herculean effort to bring in the ‘missing millions’ before the November 26 deadline”.

“Parties need to recognise the system is broken: after the election we need a ‘registration revolution’, moving towards automatic voter registration as in many other advanced democracies. In the 21st century, you shouldn’t have to ‘opt in’ to your right to vote,” he added.

A democracy should make every effort to ensure every citizen has the chance to vote, it is the one issue upon which there should be unanimous agreement.

After that, it really is down to “the will of the people”.