We’re sure you’ve probably noticed by now, but there’s a General Election happening tomorrow! This is the country’s way of choosing its leaders and picking the local and national issues we want those leaders to work on. The Members of Parliament (MPs) we choose will represent us for up to five years, so it’s really important that you choose the people who best represent you, and who intend to create the kind of society that works for you.
How can I vote?
The easiest way to vote is to head down to your polling station on the big day between 7:00 and 22:00, to fill out your vote in person. If you registered to vote, you should have received a polling card in the mail, which tells you where your nearest polling station is. Don’t worry if you lost it though, you can find it on this website. And if you still can’t find your polling station, just come up to the SU reception and we’ll be able to help you out!
When you go to vote, it’ll be quicker and easier if you take your polling card and some ID with you. After, this has been checked, you’ll be given a ballot paper and asked to go into a private booth to mark your choice of candidate with a cross in pencil on the form. You can only choose one person. If you don’t want to vote for anyone, or you can’t decide, you can “spoil the ballot” by putting a cross through the whole sheet. This lets the government know that you don’t feel represented by your local politicians.
If you have registered for a postal vote, you need to complete it and return it in the envelope provided, ensuring that it’s with the Council by 10pm on the day of the election – make sure it’s posted in plenty of time!
You can also apply for someone to vote on your behalf – this is called a ‘proxy vote’. It’s possible to apply for this in an emergency if something unforeseen happens on election day. Applying in advance again needs a paper application form, which you can download from here. We can help you with this too!
If you’re disabled, your local Electoral Registration Office can tell you about:
• physical access, for example wheelchair ramps and disabled parking spaces.
• low-level polling booths.
• equipment for voters with a visual impairment.
Every polling station must provide at least one large print display version of the ballot paper and a special tactile voting device (TVD) to help people with sight loss.
Who to vote for?
Here at the Students’ Union, we’re not going to tell you who to vote for. That part’s up to you! It will depend on issues that matter to you, and those that will affect your future. Take some time to read up on what the candidates in your constituency stand for. Political parties also have general manifestos you can read, which highlight everything they want to achieve if their party wins. If you want to quickly find out what party your beliefs line up with, you can take this short quiz on student issues to find your answer.
As a student, you can register to vote at both your home address and your university address. You can even use some online tools such as this one to work out where your vote will have the most impact.
Why should I vote?
Voting isn’t the only way to participate in democracy, but it’s the quickest and easiest way to influence how the government spends its time and money here in the UK. If you don’t vote, you’ll have no say over who will be making decisions on the issues important to you.
Living in a ‘safe seat’, where the current MP has previously secured many more votes than their closest opponent, doesn’t mean your vote won’t make a difference – political parties are awarded funding depending on the number of overall votes they receive which means more votes equals more funding for the party.
Even if you don’t agree with any of the political parties, you can leave your ballot blank or spoil it. Spoiled ballots are read out at the count and political parties will start to think about what they need to do to reconnect with these voters.
Some of you might feel that your voice doesn’t matter. But when it comes to voting, your voice is all that matters. Every single vote is equally as important as the next. Use this chance to tell Parliament what you want. Spread the word. Students and young people have the capacity to really change the focus of this election.
Vote for your future.