Thousands of Newcastle residents could lose their right to vote because they are failing to register, dramatic new figures show.
And young people could be particularly affected – with electoral registers falling in cities such as Newcastle with universities and large student populations.
The figures are highlighted by Labour as party leader Ed Miliband warns that young people are in danger of losing their voice in this year’s general election.
There are 183,686 people on the electoral register in Newcastle – 18,111 fewer than last year, a fall of 9%.
The city also has a large student population, of 49,005 people, and Labour argues the reduction is connected to new laws making it harder for students to register.
The number registered to vote in Durham City, which also has a significant student population, fell by 2,461 to 64,902, a fall of 3.6%.
Registered voters in Sunderland are down by 5,776 to 209,556, a fall of 2.6%.
Mr Miliband is to launch a drive to register a million “missing voters” across the country.
In a speech at Sheffield Hallam University Students’ Union, Mr Miliband will argue that the general election in May is a chance for young voters to hold leaders to account for broken promises – like those on tuition fees.
The comments will be seen as a challenge to Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader and MP for Sheffield Hallam, who campaigned against tuition fee increases during the last election only to back fee rises introduced by the Coalition government.
Mr Miliband will say: “This election is a hugely important moment for young people.
“It is a choice that will have implications now and for years to come. It is about who this country is run for: working people, young people, or just a very few people at the top?
“In this election campaign we will be publishing a Young Britain manifesto and you have the chance to help shape it by telling us what your priorities are for this campaign and for the next government.”
Studies show young people, as well as people from ethnic minorities and people on lower incomes, are less likely to be registered, potentially resulting in some sections of society having more influence than others at general elections.
Figures from the Electoral Commission show that some black and ethnic minority groups are significantly less likely to be registered to vote compared with those identifying themselves as white British.
At the moment, 85.9% of white British are registered, compared with 83.7% of Asian people, 76% of black people, 73.4 per cent% of people of mixed ethnicity and 62.9% of people from other ethnic groups.