Anneliese and South East Labour MPs have warned that thousands of students could find themselves unable to vote due to changes to the way you register.
Universities used to be able to automatically register students to vote – but changes in the law mean this is no longer possible. Many students haven’t been told about these changes and some may only realise when they turn up to the polling station and are told they cannot vote.
Anneliese is very concerned about this threat to democracy and has written to the Vice Chancellors of universities across the region to ask what action they will be taking to tackle the drop in students on the electoral register.
Anneliese said “I’m extremely concerned that the changes to the way we register to vote have meant that many people in the South East won’t be able to vote in next year’s elections – and of course, the EU referendum – as they won’t be registered. Students are particularly at risk of dropping off the electoral register, which is why I’m urging the Vice Chancellors of universities to make electoral registration a part of enrolment for all students. Unless we act now, we could see a huge drop in the number of people registered to vote, which is why it is essential that registration as part of enrolment is set up before the next academic year begins.”
Alan Whitehead MP (Southampton Test) said “Having a say on who your councillors, MPs and MEPs are is fundamental to our democracy. I want to see as many people as possible able to take part in the democratic process and not frozen out because of a quirk in the registration process.
Parliamentary Boundaries will be redrawn on the basis of the electoral register as at December 2015. If students are not registered, constituencies with universities will shrink and the voice of higher education in Parliament will be reduced. We have two great Universities in the city and the young people who come here deserve to be represented in Parliament.”
Peter Kyle MP (Hove) said “In my role as governor of a local school and as a politician I’ve found that young people in schools, sixth-forms and universities are incredibly engaged in politics. I find it inspiring how keen they are to engage in the political system, have a voice and argue opinions. It would be a shame therefore if they were to be locked out of the voting system and to not be heard once they reach 18 and are eligible to vote. I strongly urge everyone to register to vote and to use it.”
Andrew Smith MP (Oxford East) said “It would be fundamentally undemocratic if thousands of students were left unable to vote in next year’s elections. I’m glad that many universities are already promoting voter registration – but promotion alone is not enough. We need universities to make voter registration a part of their enrolment processes for new students so that the thousands of students in constituencies like mine don’t lose their chance to vote.”