LET’S find those missing voters. According to the elections watchdog, the Electoral Commission, up to eight million eligible people across the nation are still missing from the official electoral register. One in three are under 34.

Young people, some BAME groups, those with learning difficulties or mental health issues and mobile renters in private accommodation are at serious risk of being disenfranchised.

The most disturbing trend is the drop by up to 40 per cent in the number of attainers – teenagers at school or college who are meant to join the register prior to voting age at 18.

A generation is in danger of missing its first taste of democratic participation, perhaps never acquiring the habit of voting.

According to the cross-party Hansard Parliamentary Group local elections and North of Tyne Mayoral elections on May 2 and likely Euro-election on May 23 could have a big influence – on young adults in particular. The outcome could impact on job prospects, climate change, economic growth and finding somewhere affordable to live.

Although officers in the region’s town halls are doing their best to get the missing thousands to register more needs to be done. The young and other marginalised groups shouldn’t be denied a say in the forthcoming second order elections which could determine their futures.

That’s why educational institutions, local government, the UK Youth Council and campaign groups like Voting Counts need to work in partnership to register the missing millions. People have till May 7, 2019 to register for the UK wide European elections.

Above all central government need to lead a bold and imaginative national recruitment drive to fill the electoral register.

In the long term there’s a strong case to replace the flawed Individual Registration system with an automatic voter registration system.

The UK can learn from other liberal-democracies like Germany, Denmark and Canada. For instance, the National Register of Electors in Canada was set up in 1997. It works: 94 per cent of all eligible voters are included on the register.

If we’re serious about tackling the democratic deficit in England and Wales we need a more inclusive, voter friendly registration system by the next general election.

To do otherwise would be a betrayal of young people and other minorities.

Stephen Lambert, Director, Education4Democracy CIC