25 September 2017   |  Last Updated 19-12-2014 11:17

      Friday 12, December 2014

      'Young people don't understand voter registration' says student Vice Principal

       

      YOUNG people 'don’t know how to register, let alone vote’, according to a student Vice Principal at the University of Salford.

       

      This follows research for the Sunday Politics which suggested thousands of students have failed to register to vote ahead of next year’s General Election in May.

      But 21-year-old Jasmine Pokuaa, VP for Health and Social Care, believes this is down to the fact that 'a lot of students don't actually understand the voting process'.

      “A lot of them come to university when they are 18 having never been eligible to vote, so most of them aren’t even aware of the fact that they have to register first," said Pokuaa, who is studying an honours degree in International Relations and Politics.

      “Subsequently most of them don't even know that the registration has changed, which is why Salford's Student Union is currently persuading people to sign a written petition which will make them more aware of how to vote because we want as many people registered to vote by January.”



      However, with a large proportion of people aged 18-24 seemingly disengaged with modern politics, as a result of the rise in tuition fees and youth unemployment, it calls into question whether the government actually creates policies which benefit younger people.

       

      "This is why the younger vote is extremely important," added Pokuaa, who hasn't previously voted herself.

       

      “We all know what happened with Nick Clegg’s pledge to free education and that’s why younger people need a bigger voice at elections, otherwise how else will the government make policies that are aimed at the younger generation?”

      With less than five months to go before a new government is elected, local councils are exceptionally keen to address the issue of unregistered younger voters as this underrepresented part of society could significantly swing the results on the night of Thursday 7 May 2015.

      That is why Salford City Council, whose constituency plays host to one of the UK’s top-50 most attended universities, are using extensive methods of communication, such as social media, to raise awareness of the new voter registration system.

       

      However Christopher Clarkson, a Conservative councillor in Worsley, believes younger voters are ‘ultimately responsible’ for their own engagement with the political voting process.

       

      “It’s up to young people to make themselves aware of the system and get themselves registered,” Cllr Clarkson stated.

       

      “The old registration system was simply untenable and it was something both major parties agreed upon, which is why the changes have been made under this government.

       

      “But these things don’t come with an open letter, you have to make yourself aware of what is going on in your community and take action.

       

      “There is no point sitting there feeling disenfranchised with politics when you have the opportunity to change things by registering to vote.”

       

      Time is of the essence to solve the issue of political apathy amongst young people.

       

      If the forthcoming party manifestos appear monotonous to the younger generation, however, the ever-decreasing interest in politics from voters aged 18-24 may well continue.


      *If you haven't yet registered to vote click here*

      By Liam McCallion 

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