By Honor Riley
I am sorry to be the one who brings up the B word. Brexit. It follows us around everywhere and it seems that no matter how much we try to avoid this incredibly difficult topic – it still manages to ruin family dinner times and hijacks the radio and television at any given moment.
Regardless of your view on Brexit – I think most people can agree the whole process is a bit of a mess. No one is entirely sure how, when and even if Britain will leave the EU. However, due to this, a general election has been called. On Tuesday, 29 October, MPs voted to pass a bill that would mean we are headed to the polls before Christmas. This is where you come into it; as a university student you are almost 40% less likely to vote than over 55s. In fact, 18-25 year olds are the age group less likely to turn out to the polls to vote on their future! It is paramount that as students we ensure our voices are heard.
Being engaged in the political process and ensuring your views are represented is a critical part of democracy. Governments make huge decisions that affect the everyday lives of students; tuition fees, college syllabi and maintenance loans and repayments. Voting empowers us as individuals; we have the satisfaction of knowing we have expressed our opinions to those in charge in the hope to better the lives of ourselves, our families and communities. As a result, voters are more likely to engage in political activities and debate and are also more likely to contact their MP to ensure they are representing their views.
There is a lot of talk in the political world about the significance of a winter election. A UK election hasn’t been held in December since 1923 and many argue that due to the bitterness of the British weather, many won’t want to leave their houses in the cold to go and vote. Don’t be one of these people – make sure you wrap up warm and head to your local polling station. If for whatever reason you think you won’t be able to get out of the house on election day, you can register for a postal vote. This is just as simple, and a polling card will be sent you to fill in and pop back in to a letter box (for free).
Voter registration today is extremely easy and quick – the best way to register to vote is to visit https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and set out five minutes of your day to exercise your civic duty. All you need is yourself and your national insurance number. You have until 26 November to register to vote for this election. Once you have done this, you will receive a confirmation letter and then a polling card nearer to the time of the election. The polling card will tell you where you need to go and vote, you do not need to take it with you.
If you have any questions and queries or are worried about doing the process on your own, worry not, a voter registration stall will be held on the week commencing 18/11/19 outside Binks. The exact date is yet to be confirmed but will be announced soon so keep a look out.
As a student you CAN register to vote both at home and at university. This means you don’t have to worry about where you will be on the day of the election; you simply choose at the last minute which constituency you want to vote in. The general election will be held on 12December so you could be at university still, or back home for Christmas. This isn’t a worry – just work out where you will be and choose a place to vote.
You have less than a month left to register to vote, its quick and easy, and is an important accomplishment, why not do it now?