The UK Parliament has announced that on Thursday 8 June 2017 there will be a General Election. The vote has been brought forward by the House of Commons from the planned date of June 2020, so we’ve put together a guide of everything you need to know, and why you should ensure you’re registered to vote in your university constituency.
What is a General Election?
A General Election is your opportunity to choose the representative for your local area (your constituency) for a period of up to five years.
You will have a choice of several candidates in your constituency, representing one of several national political parties. You can only vote for the candidates in your constituency election, and the person with the most votes becomes your Member of Parliament (MP).
(Remember you’re not just voting for who the Prime Minister is, you vote for your local area!)
Why should I vote?
The United Kingdom is governed by a representative democracy, which means as citizens we choose who governs our local areas and the country as a whole.
Voting is a privilege not all countries are entitled to and many people in history have fought and died for the right, so you should use your vote and use your voice to select the representative whom best represents you.
When you’re at university, chances are you’ve moved away from home which means you will need to change your constituency on the electoral register. It’s important to vote in your uni constituency so you can have your say on local decisions and services in the area you live during your studies.
Who can vote?
To be able to vote in the General Election, you must meet the following:
- be registered to vote
- be 18 or over on the day of the election (‘polling day’)
- be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen
- be resident at an address in the UK (or a British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years)
- not be legally excluded from voting
You’ve got until Monday 22 May to register which is only a few weeks away, so make sure you don’t miss your chance to have a voice. If you’ve moved address since the EU Referendum in 2016 you’ll need to change it on the electoral register in order to vote this time.
How do I choose who to vote for?
It’s entirely up to you. We’d recommend finding out who your local candidates are, reading their manifestos, and form your opinion based on how their manifesto will affect you and your local area. Ultimately nobody can tell you who to vote for, it’s entirely your decision.
How can I vote?
You can vote at your nearest polling station or by post if you have registered for a postal vote. You can choose a postal vote by visiting gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-vote.
To find your local polling station use the following website:
One last thing…
In the last General Election on 7 May 2015 only one in three eligible students voted, but whatever your opinion on the result was, it’s important that you do have your say. You can also be registered to vote in two locations (like home and uni), but can only vote in one!
For further information about what the General Election is and why you need to be a part of it, please visit the Government website http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/elections-and-voting/general/.
It’s your future in your hands. Register today https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.