General election: Why you should register to vote

So, you might have heard something about a general election in recent weeks? That’s right – in less than three weeks time, the country will be making a return to the polling station, to vote for who we want to see in government.

12 December 2019 is the day of the upcoming general election, which will decide the government for the next five years.

However, despite the deadline for registering vote being just four days away (26 November), an estimated one in three teenagers of voting age aren’t registered to vote.

The election is being hailed as the ‘election of a lifetime’ – it takes place at a crucial time ahead of Brexit, discussions about Scottish independence and the protests regarding the climate crisis.

WHY REGISTER?

You only need to register to vote once, and afterwards, you’re registered to vote in every election. That means taking the five minutes to register online will enable you to vote in every future election.

There are many different reasons to register to vote, but some of the most important include:

  • It enables you to have your voice heard and influence the political landscape of the country
  • You can help make important decisions that affect you and your community
  • You are active in having a say over your future, and the future of the country

REGISTERING

To register to vote in the upcoming election, you can do so on the government website, here. All you need to do is input some simple information about yourself (where you live, date of birth, national insurance number) and once you’ve completed your registration, your polling card will be on its way to the address you register with.

In Scotland, 16-17 year olds can vote in Scottish parliament and local elections, however you must be 18 to vote in UK elections.

Registering to vote takes minutes online and if you’re a college or university student studying away from home, you can register to vote in both your home and school constituencies. You must only vote in one constituency, but registering to vote in both means you’re able to vote easily, and don’t have to make travel plans to go home to cast your vote.

You can also register to vote via a postal vote (you send your vote away in an envelope), or vote by proxy, when someone you trust casts your vote for you when they attend the polling station. These are great options that still allow you to vote even if you can’t attend the polling station on the day.

Download the form to register for your postal vote (deadline 5pm 26 November 2019) here and proxy vote (5pm 4 December 2019) here.

PARTIES

There are a wide range of parties that you can vote for. When you vote in a general election, you’re voting for the member of parliament (MP) that you want to represent your constituency in parliament.

Usually a candidate from all major parties (Brexit Party, Conservative, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party (SNP)) will stand for election in your constituency and you can vote for the one that aligns best with your personal politics and the causes that you believe in.

For more information about each party’s manifesto and to help you decide which way to vote, you can read the BBC’s overview here.

YOUNG VOTE

It’s important that more young people vote in the upcoming election because the policies and laws that are implemented by the future government typically affect younger people for longer than older generations. This means it’s vital young people have a say in the issues that will affect them, both in the immediate aftermath of the election, and longer term.

Voting is a basic human right that people in the past fought hard for. It’s important to play an active part in society and vote on the issues that matter to you, your community and the country. Registering takes minutes and allows you to be part of the country’s democracy for the rest of your life.

Politics affects every aspect of life: from tuition fees, the NHS and transport costs, to the environment and freedom of movement around the world. This general election, don’t let others’ voices be heard above your own: vote and make a difference.

Register to vote here.

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