With the prospect of an autumn election looking ever more likely, TUXtra looks at what steps you would need to take to ensure you can exercise your democratic right to vote.
When starting University, whether it’s as a fresher or for the start of a new year, there are many tasks that will rank highly on your to do list.
Sorting out where to live, getting hold of essential course material and finding the latest and best nightspots are of course important tasks.
Yet doing something as simple and important as ensuring your registered to vote can be easily overlooked.
Despite an increase in youth turnout, polling company YouGov found that on the whole young people were still the most unrepresented age group, with an estimated 43% of 18-19 year olds and 41% of 20-24 year olds not casting a vote during the 2017 General Election.
“Be a part of big decision-making”
The UK is currently going through an unheralded political period, with October 31st’s Brexit Day looming ever closer and the prospect of an autumn General Election looking increasingly more likely.
This means that ensuring your registered to vote so that you can “be a part of big decision-making” has never been more important, but UCAS also highlight that there are some additional benefits to being on the electoral register.
If you want to rent, get a mobile contract, or sign up for a credit card, it really helps if you’re on the electoral roll, which is basically a list of everyone who’s registered to vote.
UCAS also points out that as a student you don’t have to be restricted to registering at just one address.
Students are able to register to vote at both their home and term-time addresses.
If your home and uni address are in two different local authority areas, you can vote in local elections at both. However, in general elections, you’ll only be able to vote in one.
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Eligibility to vote
In order to register to vote in UK elections there are some criteria that you will need to meet.
Information on the Your Vote Matters website explains;
You qualify to register to vote if you are:
- a UK or Irish citizen
- a qualifying Commonwealth citizen resident in the UK
- an EU citizen resident in the UK
A qualifying Commonwealth citizen is someone who has leave to enter or remain in the UK, or does not require such leave.
The website also clarifies that EU citizens “can vote in European and local elections in the UK” but that unless otherwise qualified they would “not be able to vote in UK Parliamentary General Elections.”
To vote in a General Election you must be over the age of 18.
More details on voting eligibility can be found on Your Vote Matters ‘Can I Vote?’ page HERE.
Step by step guide to the registration process
The registration process can be completed online and in most situations should prove a quick and simple process that can be done in less than five minutes.
- Go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and click on ‘Start Now’.
- Confirm where you live, your nationality, date of birth, name and National Insurance Number.
- You will be then asked to enter the address you wish to register;
- before asking whether you also live at a second address.
- Next you will be asked if you wish for your details to be shown on the ‘Open Register’ – an extract of the electoral register which “can be bought by any person, company or organisation.”
- You will then be asked if you also wish to apply for a Postal Vote.
- Then confirm some final details, before making a final check of your application and hit submit.
Postal Voting is a way of casting your vote without having to attend a designated polling station. More details on the process can be found HERE.
Confirmation of your registration will follow from your local authority shortly after that. If you wish to register for a second address, you then complete the exact same process again for that address.