So I’m a BIG believer in that everyone that is eligible to vote, should be voting. We live in a society that needs democracy, and the only way we can ever achieve that is if everyone uses their vote. Voting is SO important. Across the world people have died fighting for the right to vote and be a part of a democracy. Less than 100 years ago, people were killed during the struggles in the UK to get the vote for women, in South Africa black people weren’t allowed to vote until the end of apartheid in 1994 and still today so many people across the world are denied the right to vote.
You NEED to register to be eligible to vote, so don’t forget. Here’s an easy (I think..) Q&A break down of everything you need to know!
Q: Why do I need to register to vote now?
A: Well, last year changes were made to the way we are put on the Electoral Register. Whereas before only the heads of households were contacted to put the names down of their partners and any children over the age of 18 in the house, steps have been put into place to introduce an Individual Electoral Registration (IER). This will give individuals more control over the process and accuracy of the register.
Q: Am I eligible to vote?
A: You can register to vote if you’re 16 years old or over and a British or Irish citizen, or a qualifying Commonwealth or EU citizen who is a resident in the UK. You can’t vote until you are over 18. However only those who are over 18 and a British citizen can vote in the UK Parliamentary general election. If you’re not a British citizen, check online to see what votes and referendums you are eligible to vote in whilst you’re a resident in the UK.
Q: How do I know if I am registered already?
A: Your local electoral registration officer will have written to you last summer, but if you’re not on the electoral roll, you may not have got a letter. If you’re worried you might be already on it, or not sure if you’ll be on it, contact your local council (find details on the link here). If you’re pretty sure you’re not registered, keep reading!
Q: How do I register to vote?
A: You can register to vote via the Gov.uk website or via our Students’ Union website. You’ll need to include information of your addresses (you can also put in your student address), as well as your National Insurance number. You can also download and hand write your own form if that’s how you roll!
Q: It asks me if I want to opt out of the open register, what does this mean?
A: Simply, it’s a public electoral register. It’s mostly used by companies who pay a fee to access it for marketing purposes. You can opt out of being a part of the open register, but still be on the electoral register. About half of the population already have. Myths to clear up – it will NOT affect your credit score as lenders check the full electoral register.
Q: What do I do if I’m a student living away from home?
A: THIS IS IMPORTANT. A student who has a permanent home address AND a term-time address can be lawfully registered at both addresses. This means, you are eligible to vote in two different electoral areas, two different local elections and two different local councils. HOWEVER, it is an offence to vote twice in any one election – so you must choose to vote in your hometown constituency, or your student town constituency.
Q: I’m doing my year abroad but still want to vote, what shall I do?
A: If you are a British citizen living abroad, you can apply to be an overseas voter. You register to vote in the same way as everyone else. Read below on how to vote when you’re living abroad.
Q: I want to vote, but can’t go to a polling station on election day. What do I do?
A: If you’re living abroad this year, or simply can’t make it to your local polling station, you can register to vote by post or proxy.
Q: How do I register to vote by post?
A: To register to vote by post, simply download this form, print and complete it, and send it back to your local electoral register office. You will then get a postal pack sent out a week before election day. Once you get it, mark your vote on the ballot paper and make sure you have it sent so it is received by 10pm on the day of the election. If it arrives later than this it will not be counted. If you’re voting abroad, I’d personally recommend voting by proxy to ensure your vote gets delivered on time.
Q: How do I register to vote by proxy?
A: Voting by proxy means you are appointing someone you trust to vote on your behalf. This is particularly useful when you’re overseas, have a disability, on a course/exam all day or perhaps are working all day. To apply for someone you know to be your proxy, download and complete this form.
Q: Why should I register to vote?
A: Being able to vote is SO important. It gives you a say on who represents you in your local council and in the UK Parliament and in Europe. So many are quick to disagree with politicians, but if you don’t register and don’t vote, you won’t be able to have your say.
Elections can also be called at short notice, and if you’re not registered, you won’t be able to vote.
Across the world, and through history, people have died fighting for the right to vote and to be a part of a democracy. Embrace and feel privileged that you can.
It gives you a say on important issues that affect you.
Hope this helps – please get in touch on @VickyChandler if you have anymore questions!