General Election 2024: University students urged to register to vote - here's how to do it

Conceptual image of a person voting, casting a ballot at a polling station, during elections.
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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has set the date for the General Election as Thursday, July 4. As the UK gears up for the parliamentary dissolution and the subsequent campaign period, students are faced with questions about their voting situation.

WalesOnline has taken to TikTok with an informative clip aimed at helping students navigate the potential voting challenges during the forthcoming General Election. Given that the election is scheduled for Thursday, July 4, many universities will have concluded their academic year, resulting in a mass exodus of students from their term-time accommodations, be it transitioning to new lodgings, returning home for the break, or relocating permanently post-graduation.

Senior Reporter Ben Summers explained: "For starters, as a student you're allowed to register to vote where you live for uni and where your family live. You can't vote in both, you might choose to vote in one rather than the other. Maybe back home because it's more of a swing seat, where your vote makes more of a difference."

He further advised: "If you want to vote at uni and you're moving out of your student house before July 4, before Election Day: you can, but there's stuff you need to know. The long and short of it is, as long as you register to vote somewhere, you can vote there, even if you move after the deadline."

For instance, Ben highlighted that if a student attends university in Cardiff but their family home is in Edinburgh, they are eligible to vote in Cardiff provided they register there before the cut-off. The deadline for registering to vote in the General Election is 11.59pm on Tuesday, June 18, reports Wales Online.

"If you do that, it does not matter if you move out of your student house after the deadline, even if you're leaving Cardiff entirely," Ben clarified.

He also pointed out a potential issue for students: those who return home for the summer break, relocate after graduation, or don't have immediate accommodation lined up may find themselves unable to vote in person unless they travel back. Nevertheless, options to vote by post or proxy remain available.

The cut-off for postal vote applications is set for 5pm on Wednesday, June 19, while the proxy vote deadline is 5pm on Wednesday, June 26.

Ben remarked: "It's quite likely that student turnout is going to be low because of this, people are gonna be moving, they're gonna be all over the place, they might not know what to do. But as long as you're registered to vote in your uni town or city by the deadline, you can still do it if you've moved after the deadline."

How to register to vote if you're a student

Fortunately, students can register to vote at multiple addresses if they consider both to be their permanent residence. This could include their current student accommodation or their family home.

Depending on the type of election, it may be possible to vote in both locations. However, for General Elections, referendums and devolved parliamentary elections, voting in two places is illegal.

Therefore, you can only cast your vote once.

If you're relocating, you'll need to register each time you move. You can do this online or by using a paper form.

To be eligible to vote in a general election, you must be registered, be 18 or over on the day of the election, be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen, reside at an address in the UK (or be an overseas voter), and not be legally excluded from voting.