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Mar 10

Register your vote this National Voter Registration Day

Posted on Monday 10th March 2014

On the 5th February 2014 those who had not registered to vote in this country were urged to get their names on the electoral register in a push for greater political engagement by an organisation called Bite the Ballot.

Bite the Ballot is a new initiative set up on the anniversary of the Great Reform Act of 1832, when the current voting registration system was set up in Great Britain.

The campaign is mainly targeted at the 16-24 age-group, as figures released last year from government think tank, IPPR, reveal that only 32% of young people in this country actually voted in the last local elections. The problem with not having enough voters in this age-group is that it's unlikely that young peoples' opinions will be taken seriously by politicians when it comes to electioneering for the 2015 general election. This is evident from IPPR figures that reveal that services for young people were amongst the hardest hit by government spending cuts.

Changes to Voter Registration System

The coalition government has also announced that for the next election, voters will have to register as individuals, as opposed to the current voter registration system that sees people register as a household.

Ministers argue that, "the introduction of individual electoral registration in Great Britain will modernise the way people register to vote, help to tackle electoral fraud and improve confidence in the electoral register. Registration will become an individual responsibility rather than an act carried out by just one person in each household."

The electoral commission says that 73% of registered voters can be transferred over to the new style system automatically. However, there are still major concerns over whether the new system is inclusive enough and will changes to the voter registration system confuse some and result in potentially millions of people being turned away from the polling stations on Election Day.

Bite the Ballot

According to Bite the Ballot's twitter account, there has already been over 400 rallies across the UK. And in a push to get 250,000 young people on the electoral roll, the initiative seems to have motivated a good number of young voters to get more involved with politics.

Meevan Babakar speaking on behalf of the campaign organisers says that, "If every single young person voted, that would make 20 percent of the population. That's quite a big target that's being completely ignored at the moment."

So if you're a young voter, or even someone not in that age bracket, who wonders how they should go about getting their get name on the electoral roll, here are some tips.

How to register your vote

Visit About my vote and register your details on the database. You don't need to be over the age of 18 to register, the age limit only applies to the actual ticking of the ballot paper come election/referendum day.

Also if you are a student, you may register for both your term time address and your parent/guardian's address. But of course, you will only get to vote once.

Once you have filled in your details on the electoral commission website, you must then make sure you print off the forms and post them to your local authority in order for your registration to be valid - it's as easy as that!

Reasons to register

There is a pervasive attitude of apathy amongst young voters. Many young people feel disenfranchised with the whole political system. These concerns were raised by Russell Brand in the now infamous interview with Jeremy Paxman, last year. However, dropping out of a democratic system altogether is no way for young people to bring about change and get their opinions heard. Here are some good reasons why registering your vote really matters.

It gives you a voice

As Meevan Babakar from Bite the Ballot mentioned previously, if every young person in this country voted, they would account for 20% of the entire electorate. This is a huge figure and a population that the main political parties have failed to engage in recent decades. Young people are the future, so getting involved and learning more about politics when you are a young adult is vital if you want to understand the society and issues of the world you will inherit.

voter power

Image by Happy-Fingers

If you don't register, you can’t vote

Elections and referendums can be called at short notice (in some cases as few as 17 days in advance). If you are not registered, you will therefore have no opportunity to vote.

It's your right and it didn't come easy

Democracy is something that we take for granted in this country, but across the world many people have died fighting for their right to vote because it really is that important. Today, millions of people still have no say in how their country is run and there are huge humanitarian crises happening as a result of these brutal dictatorships.

It will improve your credit rating

A poor credit score can be very restrictive especially if you are looking to lend money for that new car, 50 inch TV or fridge freezer. By registering on the electoral roll, lenders will use this information to help confirm your name and address and is the simplest way to improve your credit rating.

Because it's easy

It's easy to get your name on the electoral register, it only takes a few moments to fill in your details and the price of a stamp to get your form sent off to the authorities. Once it's done, you're good for the whole year before you will be sent a canvass form from your local council. And if there are no changes to your contact details, you can even re-register over the phone.