Over the last couple of weeks I have been visiting local secondary schools to talk to students about the importance of registering to vote and the changes to how we register to vote.
There is now a new system for registering to vote called Individual Electoral Registration which means that every individual is now responsible for registering themselves as opposed to registering to vote as a household with the head of the household registering everybody at the address.
This is a significant change to the way people apply to be on the electoral register.
Transitional arrangements have been made to allow data matching against records held by the Department for Work and Pensions to automatically confirm electors on the register during the transition to Individual Electoral Registration in 2014 /15.
There will also be changes to the information that you need to provide to register under the new system including your National Insurance Number and Date of Birth to ensure security.
Postal voters who are matched with the Department for Work and Pensions database will automatically keep their postal vote. If existing postal voters are not matched, they will be sent an ‘invitation to register’ letter and will need to re-register for an absent vote.
With a General election not too far away it is important to raise awareness of these changes and also to make young people aware of the importance of registering to vote and of participating in the democratic process.
People who have moved home since the current electoral register was compiled in 2013 and who are not matched with the database at the Department for Work and Pensions may need to take extra steps to ensure they are included in the new electoral register.
Students who have or are about to turn 18 and who may have moved address due to attending university or college should also take steps to ensure their inclusion in the new register.
It is important that people of all ages are able to exercise their democratic right and with only half of 18-24 year olds being registered to vote we must do everything we can to ensure levels are improved for next year’s General Election and beyond.