Friday 13-11-2015 - 17:14
Gloria De Piero MP and NUS’ Robbiie Young team up to send out a rallying call for all students to register to vote by next Friday.
Students have just one week to register to vote in time to be counted on the electoral register and have their voices heard.
Over the past few years both the Labour Party and the NUS have been working in overdrive to ensure hundreds of thousands of people are on the electoral register and have a voice when it comes to the future of the country but in the next week, the urgency of these efforts is even greater.
The government have ignored independent advice to wait until the end of 2016 to implement big changes to the way you register to vote – and one million people look set to disappear from the electoral register on 1 December this year.
Why is this important?
Individual Electoral Registration (IER) changes how you register to vote. In the past, it was possible for a family member or your university to register you to vote. But now, you need to take action to do it yourself – and you may not even realise it.
The last moment your application can be counted for the 1 December electoral register is 20 November – that’s next Friday, just seven days away!
This early transition to IER threatens to disenfranchise and shut people out of our democracy. It has left far too many people off the electoral register who want to be on it.
In fact, many people who think they are on the register may well have already been taken off it without realising.
Another attack on students and young people
We know what kinds of voters are more likely to be missing: they are private renters, the unemployed and lower-paid people. But perhaps the greatest divide is between the older and the younger generation. Some 95 per cent of over-65s are on the electoral register, yet the proportion of 18 to 24-year-olds is just 70 per cent.
The government has already led many to believe that it is not on the side of students - with it’s proposed cuts to maintenance grants and continued cuts to Further Education - and these measured are viewed by many as an effort to silence young voters.
Robbiie Young, NUS LGBT Officer (Open Place), said: “I am sure that if I was George Osborne - already facing a severe backlash for leaving working families worse off through cutting the tax credits they rely on - I would sleep easier at night knowing that I’d made it harder for students to vote.
“So of course, the government want to quietly ensure that students and young people miss out on being counted. But we cannot let that happen. If students don’t register to vote now, they will be at a major disadvantage, with even more people underrepresented - and it won’t be enough to fight for change in 2020 if we miss this chance now.”
We need to make sure that as many people as possible and students all over the country register to vote in the next week.
In the next election it is imperative that their voices are heard loud and clear - the first step is to make sure you are registered yourself – you can do this in just three minutes at gov.uk/register-to-vote.
We are asking you to message your friends, stick that link on Facebook, send out a tweet, and put it on your WhatsApp groups. We only have until November 20 to register to vote and to show we are a part of our communities. Even if this government want to play around with the boundaries; we’ve got to make sure they can’t write us out of the picture.
You must not go unheard.
Gloria De Piero MP is the Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Registration