General Election 2017
We’re approaching another General Election! As your Welfare & Community Officer, I want to highlight why I feel it’s so important that students engage in this election and exercise their democratic rights. Students need to make sure they register to vote, and that they use their vote on 8th June for so many reasons – I won't try and rewrite them, they’re summed up really well in this article.
NUS summed up the biggest issue around students voting (or not!) here, stating that “research has found that just 55% of people aged 18-24 are registered to vote, compared to over 90% of over 65s”. The electoral commission found that students were a particularly under-represented group on the electoral register, meaning students have less of a voice because of not voting
It will only take you a minute to register online, you could do it right now! You can register online at http://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
Some of the most frequent worries that students have when voting are in bold below, with a quick explanation/answer to that concern.
I can’t vote because I wasn’t born in the UK. Not necessarily. If you are a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland you can vote in a UK general election. You can find a list of who is eligible to vote here.
I have to register at home and I live somewhere else during term time. You are within your right to register at both your home and term time address for certain elections. Although you are not able to vote twice in the General Election, having your name on the register both at home and at your term-time address can influence policy makers to pay attention to people like you. When we held our referendum on whether Solent should be automatically registering students to vote, this was one of the main concerns raised by Solent students!
My vote won’t count anyway. There are a lot of areas and constituencies in which students have the potential to be a powerful force. Before you even set foot in a polling station you can have a big impact on policy by campaigning to the candidates on the issues that matter to you whilst being registered to vote.
If I register to vote my details will get passed on. When you first register to vote, unless you’ve opted out your details will go onto two registers: an electoral register and an open register. With the open register, which includes all of your contact details including name and address, anyone can buy this off your local authority and use your details. If you want to avoid this then you can easily tick a box during the registration process to opt out or once you are registered ring up your local council and ask them to take you off.
So make sure you register to vote, and turn up on the 8th June to cast that vote!
If you have any questions, feel free to drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org!