29 January 2015
SOAS, University of London has joined other academic institutions around the United Kingdom in committing publicly to a campaign designed to get more students and young people signed up to the electoral register.
The Electoral Commission, the National Union of Students, the Association of Colleges, Universities UK, Guild HE and the Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA) wrote to academic institutions across Great Britain asking them to help get their students registered to vote at the start of the year.
The letter draws attention to the fact that young people, especially students, have historically been less likely to be registered to vote than those in other age-groups. It cites research conducted by the Commission that indicates that around 30% of 18-24 year olds are not registered to vote compared to less than 5% of those aged over 65.
Action was prompted due to the fact that in June 2014 a new system of individual voter registration was officially introduced to the UK. The new system means that everyone who is eligible to vote in a UK election must now register themselves individually rather than this being done by a ‘head of household’. The change is pertinent to universities, who previously were enabled to act as ‘head of household’ and register their residential students en bloc but can no longer do so.
The good news is that the individual registration system is incredibly simple and quick to complete.
If you are a British or Irish citizen or both a Commonwealth and European Union citizen who is resident in the UK then you can register to vote in 2015 General Election.
To register to vote, visit the Electoral Commission’s website. Registration should take no longer than five minutes.
Paul Webley, Director of SOAS, said: “I strongly encourage everyone in the SOAS community to register as soon as possible to ensure they give themselves the opportunity to get involved in the democratic process. Our institution was recently voted top political university in the Which? University Student Survey 2014 – let’s ensure we get as many students registered as possible and live up to our deserved reputation.”
You must register by no later than 20 April 2015 in order to be eligible to vote in the UK General Election on 7 May 2015.
Citizens of the European Union who are not Commonwealth citizens can vote in European and local elections in the UK, but are not able to vote in the UK General Election. However, you can still sign up immediately to the electoral roll to ensure you are counted for future elections.