The importance of registration
It’s now only three weeks until we go to the ballot box to vote in the EU referendum. If it’s at all possible, the media attention will only grow over the next 21 days. Ahead of this, though, there is another important date – 7 June – the final deadline for voter registration to enable you to take part in the referendum. A referendum like this is a once in a generation opportunity and its result is likely to have a number of implications for the future of this country, whichever side wins. Therefore, it is essential that everyone takes up their democratic right to vote. What you need to know however, is that the way we register to vote has changed. Previously, all you needed was the ‘head of the household’ – who would confirm the details of all eligible voters in that house. Now, however, each individual must register themselves, known as ‘Individual Electoral Registration’ (IER). At the Association of Colleges, we have been working closely with the National Union of Students, Universities UK and the Cabinet Office to encourage young people to register to vote. Research suggests that this is the group of people least likely to be registered. Figures released by business group London First have shown that in the capital alone around 900,000 eligible voters, many of which will be young people, are missing from electoral register. These trends are likely to be similar across the country, potentially leaving millions without a say in this historic vote. Registering is simple – it takes about five minutes to complete and you only need your address and National Insurance number. Simply go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and follow the instructions. If you’ve already registered, encourage others to do it too. Colleges across the country have already been heavily involved in the referendum campaign, with many carrying out hustings and debates. It’s inspiring to see so many young people engaged in this important issue and hope that transfers through to them registering to vote. The referendum has everyone talking. Are you in or are you out? If you want your voice to be heard, make sure you’re registered to vote. Andrea Jones is the Head of Communications and Membership at the Association of Colleges.