Thursday, 4 May 2017

A Guide to Voting in the General Election for 18-25 Year Olds

Discussion surrounding bloggers and their responsibilities comes around time and time again. Do bloggers have a responsibility to educate their readers as opposed to simply entertaining them? Do bloggers have a responsibility to promote a healthy lifestyle, especially those with a younger audience? Do bloggers have a responsibility to use their platform to speak up about the big issues such as sexism, racism, and homophobia?

I don't think 'responsibility' is quite the right word. However, if you have a platform of any size, I do think you might as well use it for good whenever you can. That's what I'm doing today.

So, there's going to be a General Election on 8th June 2017. At a time of huge uncertainty and national anxiety (thanks, Brexit) this election is going to have a big impact not only on our government for the next few years, but also on how and when we leave the EU - that's if we leave at all, because you never know. Like I said... uncertain times.

Our last General Election in 2015 saw, well, not much from 18-25 year olds in terms of voting. It was a low turnout. Only 6 out of every 10 young people turned up to vote, and our age-group had the lowest percentage of participants. Statistics show that if more 18-25 year olds had voted, things would be very, very different now. Whether you're happy with the government we ended up having or not, it just goes to show how important voting is.

We need to learn from our mistakes and make up for it on 8th June. This is our chance to have our say and make a change at a time when the voices of 18-25 year olds aren't listened to or taken seriously.

You can register to vote from the age of sixteen. You can't actually vote at sixteen (I wish) but as soon as you hit that number, you might as well register and be prepared, right? And if you turn eighteen a few days before the election, or even on the day itself... it doesn't matter. You can still register to vote right now. You don't have to miss out.

Seriously, if you haven't registered to vote yet, and you're able to, do it now. Click here. I'll wait.


Done? I'll be annoyed if you haven't bothered. Just saying.

Those of us who have registered to vote... this is a really strange election. Like, really strange. It's not a normal one where you vote for your favourite party and leave it at that. With this one, you have to vote strategically otherwise you're basically wasting your vote (sorry). I always said that as soon as I was able to vote, I would be voting for a certain party, but now, with this mess as my first election, I won't be voting for them. I can't. If you're against the Conservatives, you have to vote Labour or Lib Dem (probably just Labour, really, but many are waiting to see each party's campaign) and if you're a Conservative, well... whatever. Vote for them, then. I'm not here to influence who you vote for, I'm just here to encourage you to vote in the first place.

Got exams around the time of the election? Got one, or even two, on that very day? Vote anyway. It takes hardly any time at all. If you've ever gone out to lunch after an exam, or met up with a friend, or gone to the gym, or chilled in the park, or even just gone to the supermarket for a pint of milk - why is this any different? If you've got time to do that, then you've got time to vote. And if you really, really don't want to vote in person, you can register to vote via post. You don't need to give a reason. The same goes for if you're ill and/or disabled, or if you'll be on holiday, or if you simply won't be around that day. You can also apply to vote by proxy. There are so many options!

It doesn't matter in which way you vote, just make sure you use it. Voting is a privilege, and it's important. Don't be put off by the fact that this election is a little trickier than others in terms of deciding who to vote for. Here are some resources that will help you:

WTF is going on?

This piece on the BBC website gives an unbiased run-down on everything going on at the moment. What is Brexit? Why are we leaving the EU? Why is Theresa May calling a General Election? It's all here.

What each party stands for:

Who to support:

This quiz is very thorough and, even though I wouldn't recommend automatically voting for whichever result you're given, it will give you an idea of which parties you side with most and where you stand politically.

Voting Counts is an unbiased political resource created by young adults, for young adults. You can find quick guides on the main political parties in the UK, as well as reasons you should vote and other ways you can get involved if you want to do more or if you're under 18.

If you're not into the Conservatives sticking around for the next government, pop in your postcode and it'll let you know who to vote for to kick them out, based on where you live.

The process of voting:

If you're not sure how to physically place your vote in the first place, this article from the Electoral Commission will help you out.

Enter your postcode to find your nearest polling station/s.

This article on The Debrief explains what it is, how it works, and how to do it if you're a student living away from home.

Other political resources:

Make your political demands and decide your own future instead of having it decided for you.

This seems as good a time as any to remind you about the book of essays, Rife, which I'm part of! My essay is about why sixteen-year-olds should be allowed to vote. There are 21 other essays on topics such as mental health, equality, sex, education, money, and more. You can get your copy by clicking here (please do!) and there's even a special discount for under-24s. The book will be out next year!

So, yes - register to vote before 22nd May (you can still do this even if you don't turn 18 until after that date!) and have your say. It's one of the most important things you will ever do, and I for one can't wait to turn up at the polling booth for the first time during a General Election.

Will you be voting in the General Election?

1 comment :

  1. YES. YES. What an awesome post! Sadly I & many of my friends are unable to vote because we're too young, but I think it's so important to for young people who are able to do so to vote. Thanks for linking to some of these resources as well; I'm off to check them out now! (I am trying to be more politically aware, because then I have more information to shout a lot about the things I care about. Even if I am a bit worried for the future of the UK...)