A huge change to voting in Wales has just been given the go-ahead

A count for the General Election
-Credit: (Image: Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)


A new law which will mean every voter in Wales will automatically be added to the voting register has been passed by Senedd members. If trials are successful, it will be in place for the 2026 Senedd elections.

The Elections and Elected Bodies (Wales) Bill is, the Welsh Government say, something which will help increase participation in Welsh council and Senedd elections.

The law has four main parts:

  • Introducing new pilots for the automatic registration of voters for Senedd and local government elections in Wales

  • Setting up a new all-Wales body responsible for co-ordinating the effective administration of Welsh elections

  • Creating a new online voter information platform

  • Introducing measures to increase diversity in the membership of the Senedd and local government.

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In the final stage of debate before it was passed, Labour's counsel general Mick Antoniw told the chamber that automatic registration "will have the potential to add the missing 400,000 Welsh electors to the register". He said in the wider UK it would mean an extra potential 7m voters on the register.

The Conservatives in the Senedd opposed the bill. Voters will be automatically added to the register by council staff and don't have to initiate the process themselves.

Voters are then contacted to ensure the details are correct and to ensure they are happy to be added to the register and whether they want to register anonymously. The Electoral Reform Society has hailed the passing of the bill as a big step forward for Welsh democracy.

Darren Hughes, chief executive of Electoral Reform Society, said: "The passing of this bill is a groundbreaking moment for democracy in Wales, as well as the wider United Kingdom. Automatic voter registration is a win-win for voters as it takes one more thing off their to-do list while also strengthening our democracy by helping to enfranchise the hundreds of thousands of missing voters in Wales." For the latest politics news in Wales sign up to our newsletter here.

After the bill passed, Mr Antoniw said: "This is a big year for elections, with last week’s general election reminding us everyone’s vote counts, and by voting we can determine who runs our governments. It is important that every citizen has the opportunity to vote and that means being on the electoral register.

"According to the Electoral Commission, around 400,000 people are missing from it. This is bad for democracy. Our Bill will seek to automatically register every citizen who is entitled to vote. Today, members of the Senedd have voted to bring our electoral system into the 21st century and to make it more accountable and accessible to the people of Wales."