Friday 05-02-2016 - 09:00
Here's Deputy President, Ebbi Ferguson, explaining why you should vote during election time.
When was the first time you ever voted? I wish I had voted in the 2012 Kit Kat showdown; the one where the public got to decide between white chocolate and peanut butter Kit Kats. I really, really regret not voting now because white chocolate ones were where it was at. So, I want to encourage you to exercise your democratic right at every opportunity- you never know what you might miss out on.
It might sound light hearted, but as I’ve recently turned 20, I haven’t had that many opportunities to exercise my democratic right. But, there is an exciting opportunity coming up in May, the National Assembly for Wales Election. This will be an opportunity to elect Assembly Members to represent the constituencies that you live in. AMs make decisions on things that affect you. Whether you are originally from Wales or not, if you study, live and work here, what they debate in the Senedd will make a difference to your life.
It feels strange writing this, when less than two years ago, if you’d have told me to register to vote, let alone vote in any election I would have laughed. I didn’t see the relevance. How would my vote make a difference? What do politicians even talk about anyway? I didn’t care. The truth is, I did care and I still do. I just hadn’t joined the dots between politics and my day to day life: I care about whether or not I can get a train home, I care about the NHS and being able to access A&E, I care about getting a good education; an education that will equip me for life not saddle me with debt.
There are 20 areas that Wales have been given decision making powers over. Of these, three in particular are really important to me: education, health and transport. Fishing is also devolved, so if you have nothing to do on a Saturday night, why not google what each of the parties think about fishing in Wales? #livinglifeontheedge.
But on a serious note, the elections are coming. Don’t miss the chance to make a difference and have your voice heard. Yes, I know people say this all the time and it’s a very ‘buzz wordy’ phrase, but it’s true. Whether or not you know what the parties stand for, you may as well register. You’ve got ages to decide which box you’ll tick, but you can only register before 18 April. Once you’ve missed the deadline, that’s it, you’ll have to wait another five years for your next opportunity to vote in the Assembly Election.
Its super easy to register and only takes a few minutes but there are plenty of myths about voter registration that I want to smash!
It takes ages!
Mate, takes less than five minutes. Pop the kettle on, by the time you’re done, you can reward yourself with a brew.
I’m not 18 yet.
Keep it cool, you can register to vote as long as you are 16 or over. True story.
It’s such a stress!
Don’t worry, I believe in you- you got this. Just click this link https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Apparently I need my national insurance number!
I just called my mum and she had it in a folder under the sofa, so go ring your rents. If you can’t do that, go here: https://www.gov.uk/lost-national-insurance-number they’ll help you track your number down. You’ve got until the 18 April 2016, so start the process now and you’ll be able to register in plenty of time.
I’m not Welsh, I’m just here to study.
That doesn’t mean you can’t vote! As long as you are a British citizen, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen, or a citizen of the European Union and resident in Wales, you should register.
It doesn’t make a difference….
If everyone thought that then no one would vote and it really wouldn’t make a difference. The truth is, not enough young people are registered and maybe that’s why it feels like we don’t make a difference. By registering you are taking the first steps to making that change.
So, now you know the truth go and spread the word. Registering to vote is super easy and super important. If I’d have got my stuff together, I could be eating a white chocolate Kit Kat Chunky right now, but I didn’t. So don’t be like me. Exercise your democratic right, jump online and register now.