The Prime Minister has called for a snap election to be held on June 8 this year, to allow her to “make a success of Brexit”.
It’s a crucial time for many reasons, and with just seven weeks allocated to secure voters, party campaigners are going to be throwing themselves at students at every opportunity.
But why should you care, you might ask? Well, let’s take a moment to recap on the last time the British public were let loose with their democratic right to vote.
Last June’s EU referendum left more than one million young people disappointed and angry at the Leave result.
18-24 year-olds were the least likely to have their wishes recognised, with 85 per cent of undergraduate students voting to Remain.
Seemingly, even those who voted to Leave were shocked by the results – with more than 17 per cent of student Leavers admitting they would change their vote if they could.
And of course for the 700,000 Brits who have turned 18 since the last election, this is your chance to make your Brexit protests known in the only way that really counts – voting.
Make sure your opinion is counted in the General Election by registering to vote. Here’s how:
Am I eligible to vote?
You can vote in the referendum if you’re registered and are 18 or over on the day of the vote. You must be one of the following:
• A British citizen living in the UK
• A Commonwealth citizen living in the UK who has leave to remain in the UK or who does not require leave to remain in the UK
• A British citizen living overseas who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years
• An Irish citizen living overseas who was born in Northern Ireland and who has been registered to vote in Northern Ireland in the last 15 years
How do I register?
If you registered to vote in last year’s local and mayoral elections, you may not need to re-register.
Otherwise, you can register online here: gov.uk/register-to-vote
You will need your National Insurance number and your passport.
Note: If you’ve moved home since the last time you voted, then you will need to re-register at your new property.
I am a student living away from home. Where can I register to vote?
A student who has a permanent home address and a term-time address can be lawfully registered at both.
What’s more, if you’re registered to vote in two different electoral areas, you are eligible to vote in local elections for the two different local councils.
BUT not at the same time. Voting twice in any one election is an offence and leave you with a fine of up to £5,000.
What if I still don’t know whether I’m registered?
Every local authority holds the electoral register for their area. You can contact your local registration office and they will be able to let you know if you are registered.
To find the contact details of your local office, enter your postcode here on the Electoral Commission’s website.
I’m registered, now how do I vote?
You can vote in the general election come June 8 in the following ways:
In person at your local polling station – you can find the location on the Electoral Commission’s website closer to voting day.
Details of the nearest polling station will most likely be shown to you on the back of your polling card, which you’ll receive in the post.
But I was planning to be eyeballs-deep in mud at the Isle of Wight Festival by then?
In England, Scotland and Wales, you can register to vote by post if you’re unable to vote in person on the day.
For a postal vote you will need to download this form and send it to your local registration office (mentioned above).
Your local council will then send you a ballot paper by post, which you will need to send back. This must done done in advance – all postal vote requests need to arrive at the office a few days before the election.
Isn’t there another way?
If you can’t vote by either of these methods, you can apply to vote by proxy – which means allowing somebody you trust to vote on your behalf.
This can be due to a disability, or if you’re abroad, or away on a course for work or university.
After completing the right form, you'll need to print it, sign it, and send it back to your local electoral registration office.
The deadline is usually 5pm, six working days before the poll. So don’t leave it too late. Your country needs you.