Many people see registering to vote as an administrative, trivial matter that isn’t worth the hassle. But I would say to you, why would you not take the time to sort out such a simple, yet vital, matter, in order to have your say in one of the most powerful ways possible? It is so straightforward; you lose more by ignoring it. You only have to register once and you’re good to go for all future elections (unless you change address, name or nationality, in which case don’t forget to re-register with the new details!).
Perhaps you don’t believe your voice matters, but if you are part of a community – we all are, no matter how big or small – then you deserve to have your say, and registering to vote is the path to doing so. I remember the excitement, as a young person, of registering to vote. It’s not only empowering, but unifying. Every vote matters, and every vote is equal.
Let’s not just think about the outcome, however, of registering to vote. The act of registering is just as important, not just because it is compulsory and repeated refusal could carry a fine, but because it keeps the democratic process alive. As young people, it is our responsibility to stay engaged with our world, and our society. What better way to stay committed to your world than registering to have your say on it?
We cannot afford to lose touch with this fundamental pillar of our society at such a tumultuous time. Throughout the tumult, your right to vote is unwavering – use it, register.
According to the Electoral Commission, the number of 16 and 17-year olds (also known as attainers) on the register continues to fall. Between December 2017 and December 2018, the number of 16 and 17-year olds on the UK parliamentary registers in England saw a fall of 4.2%, and a fall of 3.8% on the local elections registers. There are many reasons for young people not registering to vote. A common reason is simply that they didn’t know they had to. Take this as your call to do so.
Another explanation given is that it’s a complicated, time consuming process. As I have said, it couldn’t be easier – go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and fill in your details – it takes less than 5 minutes! And remember, any checks and verifications are only there to maintain the integrity of the process. It’s further confirmation that your vote really does matter.
As young people, we live busy and chaotic lives, but at the centre of our everyday lives are freedom and choice. You have the choice to register to vote and be an active citizen or resident. Whether you’re studying in our great city, or you’ve lived here your entire life, don’t delay. The London Voter Registration Week Hub has information and resources for everybody – so do not discount yourself, do not definitively rule yourself out by not registering to vote.
It’s a common phrase to hear that young people are ‘the future’, so if you want a say in it, you have to register. But our responsibility as ‘the future’ extends further. We must normalise registering to vote, making it as much of a rite of passage as learning to drive. Tell your friends, tell your neighbours, colleagues and relatives. Register to vote today. London won’t be the same without your voice – #NoVoteNoVoice!