By James MacGregor Palmer
You’ve probably heard – there’s a General Election coming.
On 12th December the UK will go to the polls to elect your Westminster representatives. That means you’ve got until 25th November to register to vote and make sure your voice is heard. Here’s five reasons why that’s a thing you really should do…
1) It’s your opportunity to make your opinion count
Our democracy might seem like it’s pretty broken at the moment – but this is your opportunity to change that! Feel like your opinion isn’t getting enough airtime? Then vote! Whatever issues are important to you, whether it’s the environment, healthcare, income inequality, austerity, student finance, Brexit or independence, now’s your chance to get them on the agenda and get a politician in Westminster who shares your views. They work for you, so if you don’t like the job your MP is doing, kick them out by voting! In an election, everyone’s voice counts the same, so use this opportunity to make your voice heard.
2) This one’s a really, really important election
So… There’s this little thing called ‘Brexit’ happening (or not…) However you feel about it, this election has come about because of Brexit. That means that you will be voting at a crucial time in the history of the UK. If you’ve been frustrated by the last three years (and let’s face it, who hasn’t been) then you’ve finally got another chance to shape the future of the country. Infuriated that Scotland’s 62% Remain vote is being ignored by a Brexiteer Prime Minister who can’t get anything through Parliament? Now you can make that known.
3) Young people get ignored because they don’t vote
At virtually every election, fewer young people vote than older people. In 2017, just 57% of 18 and 19 year-olds and 59% of 20-24 year-olds voted, compared to 84% of those aged 70 and above. Politicians know this, and that’s why they feel able to prioritise older voters over the interests of young people. The only way to put an end to this is to prove them wrong. And how do you do that? You guessed it – vote. Having said all that…
4) If you’re a student, you’re in a pretty powerful position
If you’re a student, you can register at both your home and term-time address! This means that you have a choice of which seat to vote in (you can’t vote in both though). In this election especially, that means students have the flexibility to place their vote in whichever constituency it will be most valuable. For example, my home constituency is a Tory safe seat, but here in Stirling the seat was won by just 148 votes at the last election. If you’ve got the power to choose, use it wisely!
5) The Tories don’t want you to
Students don’t tend to vote Tory. Again, in 2017 just 19% of 18 and 19 year-olds and 22% of 20-24 year-olds voted for the Conservatives. And again, they know this. This election is at a time when most students are either in exams or making plans to travel home for Christmas. The Tories will be hoping that this benefits them because unless you’re voting Tory (which as a student, you’re probably not) it’s better for them if you don’t vote at all. So don’t let them play you.
That’s the ‘why’, now the ‘how’… Good news – it’s dead easy! (But remember, you have to register before Monday 25th November)
1) Register online
The easiest way to register is online at: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
All you’ll need is your National Insurance Number, and it only takes about 5 minutes. Just fill in the form, answer the questions and you’re good to go!
2) Register by post
If you’d prefer, you can print of a form and fill out a paper copy here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-to-vote-if-youre-living-in-the-uk
You’ll need to return this form to your local Electoral Registration Office. You can find out where this is by entering your postcode at: https://www.gov.uk/get-on-electoral-register
That’s it! It’s that simple and it’s absolutely worth it – you don’t get to complain about the result if you didn’t take part!