Exeter, Devon UK • Jul 24, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Comment How to register to vote and why it matters

How to register to vote and why it matters

Barney Young explores why young people often chose not to vote, and why student's voices are crucial in the upcoming General Election.
3 min read
Written by

With the Prime Minister announcing a General Election for July 4th, the need for young people to vote is more critical than ever. Almost five years have passed since the previous general election in December 2019, meaning many students have never participated in a general election – even if they’ve voted in local or regional ones. To vote, you must be registered. 

How to register to vote

Registering to vote is straightforward and should only take five minutes. Follow this link to access the registration page. The process requires entering some personal information. You must have registered 12 working days before the election to vote in person. For postal votes you must apply here before 19th June. Whilst in UK general elections, you must be 18 in order to vote, you may register from the age of 16. 

New laws introduced last year require voters to provide photo ID at polling stations. There are 22 accepted forms of ID, which you can view here. Be warned that student IDs will not be accepted. If you don’t have an accepted form of ID, you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate here after registering to vote. 

Why don’t young people vote?

Most typical encouragements for young people to vote seem to fall flat. From phrases like ‘exercising civic duty’ to ‘making your voice heard’, this type of language often don’t resonate with young voters. Arguments that for most people – particularly women – voting rights were fought for, seems distant to many. This may be due to more than a century of separation from that struggle. Some even argue that with the right to vote, comes an equal right not to vote. 

Many feel let down by government responses to other important issues which our generation have stood up for since the last election – such as climate change, racial equality or the epidemic of violence against women.

Many feel let down by government responses to other important issues which our generation have stood up for since the last election – such as climate change, racial equality or the epidemic of violence against women. It may be for that reason that young people do not feel like their voice is able to be heard. 

Overall, most traditional appeals to rights, duty and democracy, may only alienate young voters further. Many are disillusioned with government or the democratic process, before even being old enough to participate in it. 

Why you should vote

In the last general election, under half of 18–25-year-olds voted, significantly below the overall average. This low turnout is a global trend among young people. As with any underrepresented demographic, this can result in campaigners shifting policies to older voters, who are more likely to vote, at the expense of the interests of the young.

As with any underrepresented demographic, this can result in campaigners shifting policies to older voters, who are more likely to vote, at the expense of the interests of the young.

For example, The Conservative Party’s recent promise of a National Service programme has been seen as a bid to gain support from older voters who may distrust younger generations. Regardless of your own stance on this, would you not want to make the decision for yourself? 

In this election, with the cost of living crisis affecting young people more and more, whether it be housing prices, tuition, or the growing struggle to find employment, it is crucial to make the decisions which will affect you and your peers. Don’t let others decide for you – register to vote by 11:59pm on Tuesday 18 June. 

You may also like

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign Up for Our Newsletter