Young people encouraged to register to vote

Posted on Tuesday 4th February 2014 at 10:19 pm by SH (Editor)

Young voters: Sixth form students from Downend School.

The first ever National Voter Registration Day takes place on Wednesday 5th February and is set to become an annual occurrence.

Young people in particular are encouraged to add their name to the electoral register – although you must be 18 to vote, anyone aged 16 or above can register. According to National Voter Registration Day organisers Bite the Ballot, young people aged between 16 and 24 are currently the most under-represented age group on the electoral register. Registering to vote sends the message to government that you are a vote worth winning, not one to be ignored.

Even if you are not interested in voting, being registered is important because it can help when applying for a student loan, opening a bank account, or buying a mobile phone – in fact anything to do with finance. Lenders use the electoral register to investigate potential borrowers, so once you are on the list credit reference agencies will be able to verify who you are.

In the run up to National Voter Registration Day, representatives from South Gloucestershire Council have been working with local schools on a special campaign to encourage young people to register for their vote. Chair of  Council Cllr Ian Boulton and officers from the council’s Democratic Services department have been visiting sixth form students to explain the importance of voting, why people should vote, and also provide background information on how politics and decision making affects everyday life.

This work included presentations to explain the various tiers of government – local, district, national and European, and discussions about the way council decisions are made. There were also interactive group workshops where students held a mock election to learn about voter turnout and the count process.

Speaking about the campaign, Cllr Boulton said:

“It is really important that young people register to vote as it enables them to have their say on important issues that affect many aspects of everyday life. Your vote is your chance to play a role in society. Some people are quick to complain when they disagree with politicians, but if you don’t register and don’t vote, you’ll miss out on your chance to influence change.”

Since the campaign began, there has been an increase in the amount of young people from South Gloucestershire registering for their vote and a number of schools in South Gloucestershire are holding a special ‘Student Voter Registration Day’ on Wednesday 5th February to further encourage sign up.

For more information please contact South Gloucestershire Council democratic services on 01454 863030 or by emailing electoral.services@southglos.gov.uk

Source: South Gloucestershire Council

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