Everything you need to know about the general election

12th December 2019: save the date in your diaries because it’s the general election and it’s your chance to make a difference. However, since most universities break up on the 13th December, most students will not be at home in time to vote. This will be one of the most controversial general elections in recent history, with the concern of Brexit and the possibility of a no-deal overshadowing the public’s voting decisions. Most importantly, this general election will be the first time that students who had narrowly missed the chance to vote in the EU Referendum will be able to have their say.

While in the past issues such as tuition fees have swayed students’ voting decisions, the media frenzy surrounding Brexit has permeated everyday life, meaning young voters have been part of the political conversation much more than before.

Your vote does make a difference

In 2015, around 35 per cent of those who didn’t vote in the general election were eligible and became known as the ‘unheard third’ – a significant proportion that could, in fact, change the outcome of an election. 

The voting procedure is simple so there isn’t really an excuse not to do it.

Alternatively, if you would like to apply for a postal vote if you are away from home or for a proxy vote if you would like somebody else to vote on your behalf, those options are open to you too. The deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 4th December.

Students can also register to vote in both their hometown and the city that they live in during term time, but you can only vote in one constituency. This just means you have more flexibility on the day!

A survey published by think tank Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), shows that more than seven in 10 (71%) of students polled said that Brexit could affect how they vote and of these, the majority (53%) said they would be willing to vote tactically to achieve their preferred Brexit outcome.

Tactical voting, put simply, means that individuals cast their vote for a candidate they wouldn’t normally support to stop an undesired candidate from winning. Or, if students know that their desired candidate has a stronghold in one constituency, they may choose to cast their vote in the other area that they are registered in to increase that party’s chances of winning a seat there.

It takes a matter of minutes to get down to the polling station on the day or to fill out a form for a postal/proxy vote. This is your opportunity to have your voice heard; it’s our future that’s on the line here and while it might seem like the easier option to avoid voting if you are unsure of which party to choose, you would be losing your right to speak out against future policies that you’re not content with.

Image: PA

Kiran Athwal

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