VIEW FROM THE HOUSE
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.