THOUSANDS of voters could miss out on the chance to vote at May’s General Election following a change in the way people register.

New figures show more than 22,000 people have disappeared from the electoral roll in the past year in the Daily Echo circulation area alone.

It follows the Government decision to switch from household registrations to a system where people register themselves individually.

There are fears many of the vanished electorate could be young people living at their family home or in student halls.

However councils contacted by the Daily Echo said they did not keep age details of the electorate.

The biggest fall was in Southampton where 14,028 have disappeared from the electoral roll.

Cllr Satvir Kaur, Southampton Cabinet member for communities, said the figures were a cause for concern, especially if younger people were not registered.

She said: “They contribute a lot to the city and should have a say on who looks after their local area as well as nationally.

“There needs to be more efforts to get them on the electoral register.

“The Government and the electoral commission need to make it a priority because otherwise there will be a huge section of the population nationally and locally who are missing out.”

The Coalition Govern-ment said it is taking action to get people on the register and pointed out that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had secured extra funding to boost registration rates among students and other under-represented groups.

Ellie Cawthera, vice president engagement at the University of Southampton Students’ Union (SUSU), said: “These changes have the potential to make a massive difference to the impact of the student voice in national politics, and it’s essential that students have a say in how the country is run.

“It’s critical that students are aware of the new process and we are working to raise their awareness of what they need to do to be eligible to vote.”

Winchester has seen its electoral roll numbers plummet by 2,869.

A city council spokeswoman said letters prompting people to sign up would now be sent next month.

She said: “This will explain who is currently registered at the property, and invite applications from anyone else who is eligible to go on the register.”

In Eastleigh there were 2,424 fewer voters on the list.

A borough council spokeswoman said: “While the figures for 2014 are slightly down on the previous year, we would encourage all residents eligible to vote, to register in time for the forthcoming elections.”

Gosport had 1,193 fewer people. Test Valley saw the smallest drop with only 321 fewer people on its register this year. Figures were unavailable for Fareham.