Electoral Commission
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Bus tour launched to encourage Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities to register to vote

With just 100 days until the General Election, Operation Black Vote (OBV) have announced that they will be taking a  43 foot state-of-the-art bus on tour across Great Britain to get more BME people on the electoral registers.

OBV – which works to increase political representation of Black and Minority Ethnic communities – are joining forces with the Electoral Commission, Bite the Ballot, Operation Disability Vote, the British Chinese Project and local authorities to bring the OBV eXpress bus to areas with high BME populations.

The vehicle, which will have 12 computer stations to allow people to register to vote online, will visit areas across England, Wales and Scotland with large BME populations. The tour will begin early February and run until the deadline to register to vote for the General Election on 20 April.

Simon Woolley, Director of OBV, said: “The 2015 General Election offers us a unique opportunity to make our democracy more inclusive and reflect our greater diversity. This is our most ambitious campaign to date and we want as many people from BME communities, and other under-registered groups, to come on the bus, talk to us, and take a few minutes to register to vote.”

Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting this innovative project and would encourage anyone with questions about registering to vote to visit the bus as it travels round Great Britain. We know that Britain’s BME communities are under-represented on the electoral register. You can be part of changing that by taking the time to register to vote”

Research by the Electoral Commission shows that BME people are less likely to be registered to vote than the White population: 76% of Black people are registered to vote compared to 86% of White people.

As well as its primary purpose of increasing the number of registered voters, the bus will also be a distribution point for leaflets encouraging people to get involved in community activities and local and national politics. Helpers will be on hand to answer questions, and visitors will be able to take away a variety of information to read at home.

For more information – or to arrange interviews – please contact:

  • Paul Hensby on 07785342667 / paul@obv.org.uk to arrange interviews with Simon Woolley, Chief Executive of Operation Black Vote.
  • Rosemary Davenport on 0207 271 0530 / rdavenport@electoralcommission.org.uk to arrange interviews with Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission.  

Notes to Editors

  1. Voter registration changed in 2014 from a system where the ‘head of household’ was responsible for registering everyone in a household, to a system of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) where each person is responsible for registering themselves. You can find out more about this on the Electoral Commission’s website here.  This change also introduced the ability to register online for the first time. People can now register atwww.gov.uk/register-to-vote


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