Are they trying to stop young people from voting?
Aides of Boris Johnson’s have have privately admitted that one of the advantages of an October 15 election is to limit the number of students registering to vote, according to a report in the Times today.
There is fear amongst the Prime Minister’s team that a high youth and student turnout could severely hamper his ability to gain a majority – so an earlier election would be ideal to allow less time for students to register to vote, when they return to universities and colleges for a new term.
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, co-founder of For our Future’s Sake, said:
“It is unfortunately unsurprising that Boris Johnson’s advisors are aiming for an earlier election, as a misconceived attempt to restrict the student vote.
“Boris Johnson and his team know that young people and learners across Higher and Further Education do not want a vicious No Deal imposed on them, damaging their futures.
“No 10 are right to be scared – this generation of young people will get out and vote for pro-People’s Vote parties, no matter the time of the election.”
Speaking to Left Foot Forward, Professor Toby James – an expert in issues of electoral management at the University of East Anglia – said:
“It is important that the election is designed to be inclusive and to encourage everyone to vote. Unfortunately, many governments fall short of this and use tactics to deliberate restrict participation.
“The government has an opportunity to prove it’s democratic credentials by resourcing local authorities, universities and civil society groups to run outreach campaigns, and set a date that will not adversely affect anyone.”
He added: “Students are one of the most under-registered groups because they are so mobile. Major work will need to be done to encourage them to register to vote ahead of the election.”
A recent report by Prof James highlighted that millions of people who should be on the electoral roll are still missing.
Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS President, told LFF that ‘any attempt to restrict the democratic rights of our members will be met with the full force of the National Union of Students’:
“This move shows the extent to which Boris Johnson and his cabinet will go to lock out students voices. His actions this week, in pursuing a no deal Brexit, has been met with fury from students all around the country.
“Let’s be clear: [If this goes ahead] We will launch our largest ever voter registration campaign to get every student, in every campus, and in every classroom into that voting booth.”
Cat Smith MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, said:
“Boris Johnson must not be allowed to rig the election by stopping students from voting. The Tories know that our young people have had enough of being ignored and are a force to be reckoned with.
“Students should register to vote immediately so they can help us to get rid of this Tory government and end austerity.”
Since Boris Johnson has become Prime Minister, over one million people have registered to vote, according to official figures.
You can register to vote if you’re not on the electoral roll or have moved house recently here.
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.
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