Lady Toynbee rather crassly attempts to link the number of people who will avoid the Census next year and Cameron's correction of electorally corrupt constituency boundaries. It's the usual Toynbee whingeing - everything is a plot to do down the poor and, er, Labour voters. Yes, a whole range of people will break the law and refuse to give their details to the government's Census enumerators; some of these will be committed Libertarians, wary of the State, some will be criminals and wanted persons, illegal immigrants, the bankrupt and fugitives from civil justice, some will be in illicit relationships, or in hiding from their families or partners. Most of those who will avoid the census report will do so deliberately. Since they face a penalty of £1,000 for non-completion, they will have reasoned that the risk is worth it, that the alternatives are worse. It's a freely made choice. And yes, where tax-funded services are rationed on the basis of the census figures, those areas with large numbers of census absconders will lose out. But what the Hell does Toynbee want the State to do? Break down every door and force the population to disclose their details at the end of an electric cattle prod?
In case Polly hasn't worked it out, registering to vote is a different process altogether. Her claim that "Getting the census right and registering all voters is vitally important" is either a telling piece of illiteracy (are instead of is) or reflects an insane belief that the two are a single process. Registering to vote is wholly voluntary, and there's no penalty for not doing so. Michael Pinto-Duschinshy has estimated that of 45m registered voters, there are 3.5m missing who could be there - but also 3.5m who shouldn't be there. Individual voter registration will hopefully make inroads into the fraudulent and fake registrations, but those unregistered to vote are a different matter. The greatest incentive to appearing on the electoral register is the whole range of civil financial and transactional facilities that require registration; we don't need legislation, the banks and store cards are doing the work. To absent oneself from the electoral register is akin to civil non-being. Those who do so will have their reasons; a few may be ideological, but most will be people who simply don't want to be found.