Because of their high mobility, students are one of the most difficult groups to get registered to vote. The Electoral Commission tries to challenge that with a number of solutions available to engage students.
Young people are far less likely to be registered to vote than their older counter parts – across the UK 1 in 3 of those eligible to vote under the age of 24 aren’t registered. In addition, those who’ve recently moved and those who live in privately rented property are much less likely to be registered than people who’ve lived in a house that they own for a long time.
Young, mobile, and likely to live in rented accommodation – university students are a group that often pose challenges to Electoral Registration Officers whose task it is to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the register. Despite this, there are a number of ways your team can engage students.
Universities can be vital partners in encouraging student registration. Building relationships with university staff could help you identify where they may be able to help. For example, there may be opportunities for them to include registration information in enrolment documents, or introduce the topic at welcome briefings.
In addition, touch base with halls of residence and scope the possibilities for sharing information of the students living in the properties. An engaged halls monitor may also raise the message face-to-face with students and be an ambassador for your message.
You can also look into using data readily available to you, such as council tax documents. These detail properties which are exempt because they house students, so you can begin mapping areas to focus your efforts.
We can provide plenty of resources to help you encourage the students in your area to register to vote. We’ve got a dedicated webpage on sharing good practice for reaching students, as well as detailed guidance on reviewing and updating your public engagement strategy and registration plan.
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(This piece, written by Melanie Davidson, Head of Support and Improvement at the Electoral Commission, was originally published on the Electoral Commission blog.)