By Will Charley, Deputy Editor
The Government has admitted it is seeking to reduce the number of students voting by choosing an early election date.
The Conservative Government have admitted today that their proposed general election date, October 15th, was chosen with the belief that it might reduce the number of students able to vote.
Since thousands of young people will be moving into new accommodation at the beginning of term, many students will need to re-register to vote at their new address. Failure to do so will mean these students will have to return to their home address to cast a ballot.
As The Times reported today, the Conservative Government thought about university term dates when deciding the date for a proposed general election. Boris Johnson and his administration hope that October 15th would leave many students unregistered or too busy with academia to return home to vote.
Although the reason for the attempt to reduce the number of student voters was not explained by the aide, it is believed by pundits that students in part caused the Conservative Government to lose their majority in the 2017 general election.
An election has not yet been called on October 15th or on any date as yet.
The opposition parties are currently seeking to block the Conservatives from having an election, which they are able to do since under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, a two-thirds majority of MPs must vote in favour of a snap election.
Today, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party agreed that they did not intend to have an election until after the Government attends a Brussels summit on October 17th-18th.
However, it is believed that Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson will still attempt to push his plan for a general election through Parliament on Monday.
Students often vote in disproportionately small numbers compared to the wider electorate. Whereas eighty four percent of over 70s voted in the 2017 general election, only 58 per cent of 18 to 24-year olds did so.
In the 2017 general election, a clear majority of students who voted supported the Labour Party, whilst a clear majority of those 50 and up voted for the Conservative Party, according to pollster YouGov. Whilst 58 per cent of those over 50 who voted supported the Conservative party in 2017, just 20.5 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds voted Tory.
This may partly explain the Conservative Government’s attempt to limit the number of students voting by calling a snap election as early as October 15th.
President of Bristol University Conservative Association, Rob Porter, said:
‘An early election is the quickest and most expedient route out of the current political crisis. The earlier the election, the earlier a Conservative Government can finally complete the task given to it by the British people, leaving the EU. A later general election undermines the UK’s negotiating position whilst needlessly extending the current impasse.
'The suggestion that it has anything to do with reducing the turnout of students is nonsense. BUCA has consistently advocated that students register to vote. We did it at the European Election and, in the event of an election, we will do it again.'
Responding to the news, President of the Bristol Liberal Democrat Students, Fergus Ustianowski, told Epigram:
‘An early general election would be a problem for students registering to vote if they would like to vote in Bristol. However, a lot of students do prefer to vote at home so an early election would also make that a problem as a lot of students won’t be able to nip home and vote and come back with uni as voting is always on Thursdays and they will have lectures.
‘This is undemocratic to plan it to reduce students voting and all the political societies will be pushing very hard at the start of uni for students to register if there is an early GE. The Lib Dem’s will also be trying to stop Boris’ push for a pre-October 31st GE as our first priority to halt a no deal.’
Bristol Labour Students was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
Students can register to vote online here: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
The process takes five minutes and requires your National Insurance number and your passport.
Featured image: Elliot Stallion/ Unsplash
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