General Election 2019

A General Election has been called in the United Kingdom for Thu, 12th December. We know that right now you might be bored of and disillusioned with politics, unsure about what is actually happening in Westminster, happy with the status quo or just have no interest at all. Whatever your outlook, we'd urge you to register to vote and actually participate on polling day! It IS important, It CAN make a difference and it WILL affect your future. We've tried to answer what we think are the key eight questions students want answers to but if you have any others please don't hesitate to drop a line and we'll do our best to help. Keep an eye out too for forthcoming General Election campaign days here in the SU Building where we'll give you the opportunity to register to vote. Your Student Officers and Campaign Reps will also have lots of General Election info at any upcoming outreach sessions they run around campus before polling day.
  • What am I actually voting for?  Your vote will help decide who represents the area (also known as a constituency) you are from or studying in (you must only vote in one of these). They'll speak for you and the rest of the people who live in that area in the next Parliament and vote on all of the key proposals put forward by the Government as well as being able to propose policy and laws themselves. Your vote will also have a big influence on which political party or parties form a government and run the country next.
  • Why should I vote?  Arguably the biggest question of all and we completely understand if you're frustrated with politics and don't think your vote can make any difference. However, there are loads of reasons to take the time to have a say as the Government have control over pretty much all aspects of the way society runs so if you're passionate about any of the following (to name just a few things)... education, homelessness, Brexit, the economy, jobs, equal opportunities, the NHS, mental health, crime, getting on the property ladder, world affairs, climate change...then you should vote! Every vote does count and, put simply, no voice!
  • Who should I vote for?  We are politically neutral and firmly believe it should be 100% your choice anyway so we can't and won't be telling you that! We'd simply urge you to take some time to find about all of the political parties who have a candidate in your area and more generally get up to speed with the current political situation if you're not already. You can find out more about your current MP and what they have done in Parliament through They Work For You, there's lots of useful information about the General Election on the website, the BBC have a dedicated General Election minisite  and every political party taking part in the General Election have their own website/ social media which will include links to their manifesto. For those who don't know...a manifesto basically explains what that party promises to achieve if they form a Government for you and people like you, It will detail their approach towards all of the key issues facing the country. Keep an eye out too for public meetings and debates between the various candidates running for MP in the area where you will vote and there will be televised debates between the leaders of the major political parties on all of the main TV networks before voting days.
  • How do I register to vote?  You've hopefully heard a lot about the fact that you do need to take a few minutes to register to vote if you are not already. This is a short, simple process that can be done entirely online by clicking here. You need to be 16 or over (though you cannot vote until you are over 18) and a UK citizen, originally from The Republic of Ireland, Malta or Cyprus or a qualifying Commonwealth citizen with a permanent UK address...see more about eligibility to vote in the answer below. You'll need to have your National Insurance number to hand when you register.
  • Am I eligible to vote? As we say above you need to be 18 or over and a UK citizen, originally from The Republic of Ireland, Malta or Cyprus or a qualifying Commonwealth citizen with a permanent UK address. If you are classed as an international student and not living here in the UK permanently you probably won't be able to participate. In all cases, you MUST be registered to vote by 26th November at 11.59 pm. If you have settled or pre-settled status this does NOT give you the right to vote in the UK.
  • When do I vote? If you are voting in person on the day of the General Election then you can cast your vote from 8 am to 10 pm at the polling station closest to where you live or are currently studying (you must only vote in one). You will be told which polling station to visit on a card you receive from your Local Authority/ Council well in advance of voting day as they are responsible for the administration of all of the elections in that particular area. If you are not going to be able to vote in person on the day then you need to make sure you arrange a postal or proxy vote well in advance. If you apply for a postal vote you will receive the ballot paper early and simply need to cast your vote showing a clear first preference for one candidate only and put it back in the post before the deadline you will be given, your vote will then be included in the final tally for that election. Another option is to allow someone you trust to vote on your behalf, they will act as your "proxy". This might be a parent, sibling, partner or close friend and you just need to complete the form available here well in advance of polling day.
  • What if I am travelling that day but want to vote? We appreciate that this is a far from convenient time for a General Election and many of you may be travelling home for the festive break that day but it's no reason not to participate. Just apply for a postal or proxy vote as described in the answer above to avoid missing out on having your say : - ).
  • How do I actually cast a vote? You simply need to go to the polling station you are told to attend on your voting card on the day or, as described above, apply for a postal or proxy vote in advance of polling day. The General Election is run on a "first past the post" basis so you vote for one candidate only from the list of names on your paper with an X, if you do anything other than this then your vote is usually classed as "spoilt" and will not count towards the final result. There will be staff from the Local Authority at your polling station when you arrive if you have any questions and postal votes also come up with detailed instructions.