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One million fewer registered this year to vote hits the young, poor & minorities

Dont be one of the voicelessResearch by Labour and Hope Not Hate has found that the vast majority of local authorities – 307 out of 373 sampled – have seen voter registration fall in the last year. Overall, across all local authorities, there are 950,845 fewer electors than there were in last year’s registers. In some places, the drop is more pronounced than others, particularly in areas where there are a high number of students or other who rent privately and move often.

Under the new rules brought in this year by the Tories and Liberal Democrats, universities are unable to register automatically all students who live in halls of residence.

Last year, there were 3,500 students on East Sussex University campus on the register. This year, it’s just 377 – a drop of 89.2 per cent.

Newcastle has seen an 18,000 decline in the number of people on the register, with the bulk being lost in the predominantly student wards of Ouseburn, Westgate, South Jesmond and Wingove.

But the award for the lowest level of students registering to vote goes to my old university, and the one where I live, Lancaster University. The University and Scotforth Rural ward in Lancaster has only 22 of its 7,000 students registered.

So, when the Tories squeaked in over the line with a majority of just 333 in 2010 – it’s time we got them registered. No one in Lancaster can say their vote can’t make a difference!

The Tories and the Lib Dems are trying to avoid paying the price for the way they’ve treated young people. That’s why under their changes to voter registration, students in halls of residences can no longer be automatically registered by their university, as they have been in the past.

This means that come polling day, many people who think will be able to vote may not be able to.

Labour already has a strong agenda for young people across the country. We have pledged to stand up for

the next generation, who’ve been let down by the Tories and betrayed by the Lib Dems.

If young people don’t register to vote, they risk being cut out of politics and their issues will start to be ignored. I want to give students in Lancaster a reason to vote because I think Labour has something to offer them. Although the big pledge of giving 16 and 17-year-olds the vote, opening up our politics for young people has got some good media coverage, there is more.

A Labour government will create better opportunities for the next generation, creating jobs for young people with a Jobs Guarantee, funded by a tax on bankers’ bonuses, which will give a paid job and training to under-25s who have been unemployed for a year.

Labour will be standing up for the those young people who don’t go to university, with a new gold standard technical baccalaureate for 16 to 19-year-olds, and technical degrees, and

by increasing the number of apprenticeships for young people.

In the workplace too, Labour will ensure a fair deal for young people by raising the national minimum wage to £8 an hour by 2020, rewarding a fair day’s work with a fair day’s wage. We will ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, giving anyone who works regular hours a regular contract.

With housing, we will also get a fairer deal for renters by guaranteeing longer-term tenancies and scrapping rip-off letting agency fees.

We will tackle the housing crisis facing young people by getting Britain building again by ensuring 200,000 new homes each year to 2020, almost double the current level.

We will make it easier for young people to buy a house in their area by giving local first-time buyers priority on new homes in housing growth areas.

Don’t leave your future in the Tories’ hands. Check you and any younger members of your family are registered and help shape Labour’s plan for the next generation.

This article also appeared at Tribune

Image credit: Hope not Hate

Cat Smith is Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood

One Comment

  1. recent polling indicates that the first time voter will tend to vote Labour. Only 3% will vote UKIP Thus if UKIP gain seats it is a victory for old farts.

    The voter registration issue is vital, and colleagues must make it so. At Keele, where 2000 voters have dropped off, all parties including Tories are working to register students. The TOries have realized that UKIP threatens them. All must work to reduce the drop out figures.

    This is both a democratic and a stop UKIP issue.

    NUS has a campaign and that should be the first point of call.

    Trevor FIsher

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