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People can now register to vote on smartphones and tablets with the launch of the new online electoral registration service, the Government has said.

Voters will simply be required to provide a name, address, date of birth and national insurance number in order to join the electoral register under the new system .

The move is part of the transition to a system of individual electoral registration - ending the old system of household registration - intended to reduce the danger of electoral fraud.

Jenny Watson, chairman of the Electoral Commission - the official election watchdog - said it was a huge step forward in meeting people s needs.

Previously we either had to telephone our local authority and ask them to send a form, or we could download a copy, fill it in and send it to the electoral registration officer. The new system will be much more straightforward, she said.

However Katie Ghose of the Electoral Reform Society said that it was essential that the changeover was managed properly if people were not to drop off the register and lose their right to vote.

Today marks an important step forward in bringing our voting system into the 21st century, she said.

But this is just the first step. If the transition to the new system is not managed well, and resources are not targeted at those most likely to drop off the register, then millions of citizens will go missing from our democracy.

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