University students urged to register for General Election 2024 - here's how

Conceptual image of a person voting, casting a ballot at a polling station, during elections.
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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced the General Election will take place on Thursday, July 4. As people across the UK prepare for the dissolution of parliament, several weeks campaigning, and reading party manifestos, students may be wondering what this means for them.

WalesOnline shared a video on TikTok, to help students understand the issues they might face with voting in the upcoming General Election. With the election falling on Thursday, July 4, a lot of universities will have already finished for the summer holidays, with countless students moving out of university halls and houses, whether that’s moving to a different property, home for the summer, or moving away completely after graduation.

Senior Reporter Ben Summers said: “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 added: “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 example, Ben explained if you go to university in Cardiff but your family lives in Edinburgh, you can vote in Cardiff as long as you’re registered to vote there by the deadline. The deadline to register to vote in the General Election is 11.59pm on Tuesday, June 18.

“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 said.

He explained further that a problem students may face is that if they’ve gone home for the summer, moved home after graduation or don’t have a student house to move into directly, you will not be able to vote in person - unless you’re willing to travel. However, students will be able to vote either by post or by proxy.

The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on Wednesday, June 19. To vote by proxy, the deadline is 5pm on Wednesday, June 26.

Ben said: “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 are allowed to register to vote at more than one address if they consider both places to be a permanent home. This can be if you have a home address where you’re currently living as a student, or your home address if you live with a parent or a guardian.

Depending on the election, you may also be able to vote in both locations. However, in General Elections, referendums and devolved parliamentary elections it is illegal to vote in two places. So you will only be able to vote once.

If you’re moving house, you will have to be registered every time you move. You can register to vote online or via 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, be a resident at an address in the UK or living abroad and be registered as an overseas voted, and not be legally excluded from voting.

Register to vote here.