We use necessary cookies that allow our site to work. We also set optional cookies that help us improve our website.
For more information about the types of cookies we use, and to manage your preferences, visit our Cookies policy here.


#NoVoteNoVoice – London’s democracy needs you in 2024 and beyond

Elisabeth Pop Blog picture-2
Elisabeth Pop Blog picture-2

Author: Dr. Elisabeth Pop, Principal Policy and Programme Officer – Active Citizenship and Democratic Participation, Greater London Authority

2024 is a big year for democracy. In London, we have Mayor of London and London Assembly elections on 2 May, and in the UK, we’ll have a general election – exact date still to be confirmed. Around the world, from the US to India and Romania, almost half the world’s population will vote in some election.

Voter registration rates in London

London already has some of the lowest voter registration rates in England. Based on the Greater London Authority (GLA) 2021-22 Survey of Londoners, young people, ethnic minorities and renters are the most under-registered.

Besides structural barriers, like lack of easily available and accessible information, Londoners tell me we need to raise levels of media and political literacy, so people are aware of the benefits of taking part in civic and democratic life, and cannot be easily influenced by mis- and disinformation.

London already has some of the lowest voter registration rates in England. Young people, ethnic minorities and renters are the most under-registered.

For those eligible, voting is one of the best ways to have a say in decisions impacting us, our great city and the country. Registering to vote also has an impact on your credit score and your eligibility for jury service. For those without access to the franchise, it is important that they are aware and can take up other civic rights, like signing petitions, to ensure they too get heard.

New Voter ID requirements

This year, the equalities impact of the Elections Act (2022), especially the introduction of photo Voter ID, risks further disenfranchising already under-registered and under-represented communities, many already disproportionally impacted by the Covid pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.

Under the new law, you'll need a photo ID to vote in future elections. There are also new changes to renewing applications for postal and proxy votes. The GLA/ YouGov August - September 2023 poll shows that:

  • 1 in 4 Londoners are still not aware of the photo Voter ID requirement (24%)
  • By ethnic group, mixed / other (62%), Asian (67%) and Black Londoners (73%) are the least aware
  • By age, just 6 in 10 of those aged under 25 are aware (58%) and 14% report not having an accepted form of photo ID
  • By gross household income, Londoners earning under £20k are the least aware (67%)
  • Overall, 5% of Londoners claim not to hold any accepted form of photo Voter ID. Just 1 in 5 Londoners say they have heard of the Voter Authority Certificates (20%), a form of photo Voter ID they can apply for free of cost.
  • Fewer disabled Londoners hold an accepted photo Voter ID compared to non-disabled Londoners (90% vs. 95%).
  • There is very low awareness of the changes to renewing applications for postal voting (28%) and proxy voting (14%).

An unprecedented public awareness campaign

For this reason, on top of the annual GLA London Voter Registration Week (that takes place every year in September), the GLA has launched an unprecedented public awareness campaign in coordination with all borough electoral services and a broad civil society coalition.

We’ve increased awareness of photo Voter ID by 46 percentage points since we launched the campaign, but we need your help to go further.

As well as an awareness campaign on broadcast, print and digital media, we’re running a grants programme to bring the #NoVoteNoVoice message to communities across London. The grants programme is aimed at equity-led civil society organisations to ensure communities at risk of losing their democratic voice are supported in trusted communities setting.

We’ve also co-designed a comprehensive pack of accessible digital and print resources. This includes assets in 15 community languages and British Sign Language, and the launch of the first Democracy WhatsApp Chatbot in the UK. All of this is available on the GLA Democracy Hub.

What can charities do in the lead up to the election?

Some Londoners feel they lack the power and/ or knowledge to make a difference. Meanwhile, many civil society organisations struggle to stay open, to deliver key services and advocate for their communities due to, alongside other challenges, lack of sustainable funding and the chilling effects of charity and electoral law.

We’ve increased awareness of photo Voter ID by 46 percentage points since we launched the campaign, but we need your help to go further. We need to make sure every eligible Londoner is aware of their rights and gets heard in this crucial year for democracy.

So, please support this work by:

  1. Making sure you, your family and friends are registered to vote before 16 April, to be able to vote in the 2 May elections.
  2. Getting in touch with my team (democracy@london.gov.uk) if you want to receive our resources pack and help raise awareness in your communities, among your beneficiaries and in your wider networks. You can even join the pan-London democracy coalition we’re coordinating to get regular updates.
  3. Remembering - safeguarding democracy is a year-round job, not just around elections. Consider how you can embed education and support around civic and democratic rights in your business-as-usual activity, from volunteering, to advice services, arts and sports activity, and any other aspect of your community engagement and social justice work. Only by co-designing and co-delivering accessible, representative, and equitable civic and democratic participation will we be able to address democratic inequality and apathy, and ensure all Londoners get heard in 2024, and beyond.

About the author

Dr. Elisabeth Pop is one of UK’s non-party political civic and democratic participation experts, having led some of the biggest coalitions on voter registration and contributed to research and advocacy on active citizenship and democratic reform (including the groundbreaking 'London Voices' research). She is currently leading the Greater London Authority’s Democratic Participation programme, which she conceptualised, including its two flagship projects – the annual London Voter Registration Week (the biggest impartial democratic partnership between a regional authority, statutory bodies and a broad civil society coalition) and the unprecedented Voter ID campaign. This co-design and co-delivery model and the programme’s ongoing innovation is a source of inspiration to British and international statutory bodies and democracy institutions, for which Elisabeth has received national and international recognition.