VIEW FROM THE HOUSE

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

This is part of the Na­tional Cit­i­zens Ser­vice pro­gramme, but it is equally rel­e­vant for all 16 to 24 year olds, to think about how they make their voices heard na­tion­ally. Of course this is­sue was high­lighted dur­ing the Euro­pean Ref­er­en­dum cam­paign, not least when the com­puter sys­tem deal­ing with voter reg­is­tra­tion crashed just be­fore the orig­i­nal time limit for vot­ers to reg­is­ter prior to the elec­tion.

There was an ur­gent Par­lia­men­tary Ques­tion dis­cussed in the Com­mons the day af­ter this hap­pened. The Min­is­ter pointed out that there was un­prece­dented de­mand. Some 4.5 mil­lion peo­ple reg­is­tered to vote in the three months be­fore the ref­er­en­dum.

How­ever, the com­puter sys­tems showed that there were 214,000 peo­ple an hour reg­is­ter­ing to vote in the hours be­fore the mid­night dead­line. In the run-up to the 2015 Gen­eral Elec­tion, the sys­tem peaked at 74,000 ap­pli­ca­tions per hour. Bite the Bal­lot’s cam­paign is on­go­ing be­cause younger peo­ple are less likely to reg­is­ter to vote than are other age groups. That cam­paign won’t change, ir­re­spec­tive of the ref­er­en­dum re­sult, which is still in the fu­ture as I write this!

It is im­por­tant that ev­ery­one gets the right to ex­press their view by vot­ing. We need all age groups so that truly di­verse views are rep­re­sented. Bite the Bal­lot adds that there are fur­ther rea­sons. It helps to en­sure a fairer jury sys­tem, be­cause ju­rors are drawn from the elec­toral reg­is­ter. If more 16 to 24 year olds are reg­is­tered, it makes for a more rep­re­sen­ta­tive age bal­anced sys­tem. Reg­is­ter­ing also helps to em­power the whole com­mu­nity, be­cause if you reg­is­ter to vote it helps our lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to ob­tain the right amount of fund­ing for es­sen­tial lo­cal ser­vices.

Ev­ery­one now reg­is­ters to vote in­di­vid­u­ally, so peo­ple mov­ing home or leav­ing home to study should go on­line and make sure that they are reg­is­tered.

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