There is no such thing as an inconsequential election – each and every election have a large impact on our lives. And, the upcoming General Election is no different. It’s shaping up to be a massively important election, which will impact our generation long into the future – and long after whoever wins the election leaves Downing Street.
Therefore, it is an unfortunate fact that the student generation is significantly less likely to vote than older generations – with only 58% of 18-24-year olds voting in 2017, compared to 84% of people older than 70. This disparity in turnout has wide ranging implications – pensioners are protected by the triple lock (which ensures pensions rise year-on-year) because politicians know pensioners will vote en-masse against anybody who changes that, but too many politicians feel free to implement policies that will adversely affect young people precisely because they know that less of them will turnout at the ballot box to punish them for those policies. Given how important this election is, we simply cannot allow the same to happen this time.
Young people have a variety of political opinions – myself included – and our views are just as valid as every other person in this nation. No matter your views on Brexit, Scottish independence, or what party you support, your voice matters, and your vote will tell those in power what your priorities are. That is why, I would strongly urge you to register to vote – and then vote as if your future depends on it, because at this election, it definitely does.
As students, many of us are in the slightly odd situation of effectively living in two places at once – we have our houses back home, and our student halls and flats in Glasgow. This can create questions over where we should vote, and how we vote – particularly when home is not a short train ride or car journey away. Thankfully, students can register at both addresses, and can pick one to vote at on election day. Also, everybody can request to vote by post – useful if you particularly want to vote in one of your constituencies for any reason. If neither of these options are useful, there is also the option of proxy voting, where you can nominate a trusted person, such as a sibling, parent, or friend to vote on your behalf. These options should ensure that we will always be able to cast our vote and have our voice heard in whichever of our constituency we want to.
Although this election will focus largely on Brexit, our next Prime Minister have other matters to attend to, ranging from how we act on the international stage and where we deploy our armed forces, to more domestic issues, such as running the welfare state and deciding how taxpayers money should be spent. Even if you are completely alienated by Brexit, these issues matter too – and will impact you whether you vote or not.
We’ve all heard the jokes about History students in 2050 being asked to write essays about Brexit, but there is truth to that. This is a moment which will truly impact the future of our United Kingdom, and absolutely everybody deserves to have their voice heard. We know that every other generation will turn out in full force to make their views known and advance their own priority. As the generation who will spend our lives living with the impact of this vote, we must do the same. So please, register to vote and then, regardless of who you’ll vote for, please cast your vote and have your say!
To register to vote, please go to https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and complete the online form (it takes less than 5 minutes!) by 23:59 on the 26th of November 2019 (You must register by 5pm on the 26th of November if you wish to complete a postal vote).
The General Election will take place on the 12th of December 2019. If voting in person, you can vote at your local polling station (you’ll receive a card telling you where this is before election day – you do not need this card to vote) between 7am to 10pm. If voting by post, you will be sent a ballot to your registered address – vote as normal and then return it using the envelope provided (if you forget to post it, you can hand it in to any polling station in your constituency on the 12th of December). Happy Voting!
– Duncan Henderson