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Voting matters: How one university is campaigning to increase voter registration ahead of the next General Election

Voting matters: How one university is campaigning to increase voter registration ahead of the next General Election

By Kate Baker, student leader at Anglia Ruskin University

From 4 - 8 March, Citizens UK marked Voter Registration Week, a national movement across civil society to ensure 300,000 people don’t lose out on casting their vote at the next General Election.

By accrediting as a Voter Registration champion, employers, faith groups, universities and schools and colleges are educating people about voter registration and ID, and encouraging communities to turn out on election day.

One of the first Higher Education institutions to support the scheme has been Anglia Ruskin University. In the bustling world of university life, where academic responsibilities often take precedence, one student leader at Anglia Ruskin University has embarked on a mission to empower her peers by advocating for increased voter registration. Kate, a passionate and dedicated advocate for civic engagement, has been determined to make a difference before the upcoming General Election.

I had an idea to establish a connection between students and the electoral process, and my main contribution was suggesting and setting up links with the local Electoral Offices. I emailed them, then met with two of them via Teams and established a connection, and voila – we've got them coming to all three campuses over Voter Registration Week, bringing along the essential tools of democracy: polling booths, ballot boxes, and examples of voting slips. In Chelmsford, the electoral officer is now keen to set up links with local Further Education colleges there too.

Working closely with these electoral officers, we've come up with strategies to enhance the connection between students and the voting process. It's not just about setting up booths; it's about making sure all are accounted for in the upcoming General Election. Young people must make their voices heard, especially as we approach the General Election, and the first step of that is exercising their right to vote. The Right to Vote has been hard fought for and we must honour those people who have campaigned for votes, especially as there are a lot of people around the globe who aren’t able to vote.

I firmly believe that registering to vote allows us to have our say and hold politicians accountable for their actions. Throughout this journey, I've met incredible young adults willing to discuss their thoughts on voting. It's been a joy providing them with all the information they need to confidently cast their votes in the next General Election.

As Anglia Ruskin University transforms into a hub of civic participation, we continue our efforts to increase voter registration. This is about instilling a sense of active citizenship and creating the next generation of voters.

My favourite moment was when I discussed with a student who said that "democracy is an illusion", and when I responded "if you don’t believe the system is working for you, you can only change it from within", he registered to vote! That was a huge win for me and it's those small steps we can take to win change.

Citizens UK is on a mission to register 300,000 at-risk voters before the next General Election. Join our movement and become a Voter Registration Champion today to make sure every voice is heard.

Posted by Shazia Begum on 8 Mar, 2024