Thousands of students across Merseyside could miss out on the chance to vote in the crucial European Union referendum this year following changes in voter registration.
Many residents in the region have dropped off the electoral register, with some constituencies such as Walton and St Helens losing a combined total of over 6,000 registered voters in the area.
This means that, without being registered to vote, these people won’t be eligible to have their say on whether the UK stays in the EU when it comes to the public ballot on June 23rd.
This issue could have a big impact on Merseyside’s student population – as of September 2015, there were reportedly more than 50,000 students living and studying in Liverpool.
With many of these students having recently relocated to the area from their home towns, it is feared that they may not have registered to vote in their new constituency, or may not be aware that they need to do so.
Video report by Jessica Jones, JMU Journalism TV
Speaking to JMU Journalism, Liverpool Hope University Students Union President, Kira Cox, said: “Students make up such a large part of Liverpool as a whole that it’s really important that we get them to register to vote.
“We saw it with the General Election, the turn-out has gone up but it’s still so low compared to other members of the public that their voices aren’t getting heard, and that’s how we ended up with thing like cuts to maintenance grants and tuition fees rising.”
New students arriving at university need to make sure they are registered under the new system by updating their information such as their new address, as well as entering their National Insurance number.
Danny McGrath, from youth organisation Bite The Ballot, told JMU Journalism: “It’s important to register to vote so you can have your voice heard. If you’re not registered, you can’t vote in any election as well as the referendum coming up. You will find yourself without a voice and without any input on the democratic process of the UK.
“Recent changes to the electoral registration system have really badly affected young people in particular so changes in the system have been especially hard on students and I think a lot of students probably are not aware they aren’t registered.”
Each year, Bite The Ballot runs a national voter registration drive in February, working with a variety of political parties and public figures to encourage people to sign up.
As well as the political benefits of registering to vote, it also makes voters eligible for jury service and helps with personal credit ratings, which can assist when applying for small loans.
To make sure you are registered to vote, visit the government website and enter your details.