Last week was National Voter Registration Day, a day dedicated to creating awareness about the importance of registering to vote. The same day last year resulted in some 50,000 people registering to vote, this year the same campaign hopes to aim to register a further 250,000 voters.
Although the day was aimed at everyone who isn’t yet registered, some shocking figures relating specifically to young people aged between 18-21 revealed that as many as 800,000 of people in this age group won’t be able to vote in the upcoming general election because they haven’t registered.
The poll, conducted by the Electoral Reform Society, found that in addition to those who aren’t registered to vote, a further 9% said they had no clue of whether they were registered to vote at all.
In the course of my work I speak to students and young people on a regular basis from an array of backgrounds who are political engaged and interested in politics, many are hungry to learn more and some even have political ambitions of their own. However, there is also a large number, as illustrated by this poll who are disengaged, who are apathetic, who have given up their right to choose who or what shape our next government will be and that’s really sad.
Making a decision about who represents you is empowering, you become part of a group of people who have a voice and who help to shape the government.
The BBC political editor, Nick Robinson, said in a blog last week that the new system of individual registration is making the problem worse. He said: “You used to be able to rely on your college or student union – or Mum or Dad – to do it but now you have to register yourself. Having said that it’s easy to do – taking around three minutes online.”
It is true, this new system of registering to vote does not help the already dwindling numbers of young voters. There are some more stats which show a worrying low trend: In Lancaster only 22 out of a possible 7,500 students registered to vote in one ward. And in East Sussex there was an almost 90% drop in voters, plunging from 3,500 registered students in 2014 to just 377 this year.
You can register to vote here it only takes a few minutes, and I urge everyone to do so- as I say without it you do not have a voice and you are not able to participate in shaping future governments.