“Voting is futile”, said one of my brothers. “The whole system of voting is alien to me”, said my sister, but perhaps most striking, and indeed the underlying premise of this post, is the fact that the latter sibling, although seemingly engaged and a student at a further education college, has not yet been made aware of the changes to the way people now have to register to vote.
National Voter Registration Day was a chance for everyone to spread the importance of registering to vote and how one goes about it so that, come 7 May, staff and students in colleges right across the country will have their voices heard. This is why the Association of Colleges (AoC), in partnership with NUS, produced a voter registration toolkit for promotion on and beyond the 5 February which was a huge success.
However, lots of people, particularly students, remain missing from the electoral register. This is why staff and students should register before 20 April 2015 to ensure they have the loudest possible voice on polling day. Colleges employ 228,000 staff, 6,000 governors and educate 1.2 million students who will be aged 18 or over by the next election. There can be no denying then, that colleges could have significant electoral influence at the ballot box.
Previously, the ‘head’ of every household could register everyone who lived at their address. The rules under the new Individual Electoral Registration (IER) system are as follows:
- Everyone is responsible for registering themselves
- You can register to vote if you are 16 or over, and if you are going to be 18 by 7 May 2015 you can vote in the election
- You can now register online
- You will need to provide a few personal details to register including your National Insurance number and date of birth
In light of the new changes, AoC has created a new voter registration page on its website. Here we have produced a voter registration factsheet to distribute to staff and students, as well as other materials produced in partnership with The Electoral Commission to help spread the word – including the new #REGAFRIEND toolkit!
To misquote Martin Luther King Jr (quite considerably I admit), “our cause ceases to exist the day we become silent about the things that matter”.
We must make it our mission to promote the value of each and every individual vote, as well as the changes to the way we now have to register to vote in the lead up to April’s registration deadline.
In doing this, we’re making sure that students’ voices in colleges up and down the country are heard. Register now!
Association of Colleges