From education to employment

Your guide to voting in the General Election #GE19

With the General Election almost upon us, you might be wondering how to vote, whether you should vote and who to vote for. This short guide by Phil Burton-Cartledge, Course Director of Law and Social Sciences, is not going to make your mind up for you but will hopefully help you come to an informed decision on 12 December.

How to vote

First of all, you do need to be registered. The deadline for this was midnight on 26 November so, if you have not, unfortunately you will not be able to vote tomorrow. If you are, you should have received a polling card with your name and address and the location of your local polling station. If you have not received one or have since lost it, do no worry. You can go and vote without presenting a card. I would recommend taking some identification just in case you are asked for proof of address.

After the polling clerk in the station has crossed you off thelist, they will hand you a ballot paper with a list of candidates and point youover to the booths. You put a cross next to the candidate of your choice andpop it in the ballot box, and that’s it.

There might be activists from different parties outsidewho’ll ask you about how you voted, or whether they can cross you off theirlists. It’s up to you whether you decide to speak to them. Remember, votinghours are 7am to 10pm. Do make sure you get there in plenty of time because youwill be turned away if you leave it too late.

Why vote?

That’s the how, but why should you vote? It’s quite simple.According to recent polling by ComRes from late November, 79% of 55-64s and 78%of 65+s are planning on voting, while only 60% of those in the 18-24 agebracket are planning on doing so. And recent elections find a similar pattern.

According to YouGov, at the 2017 General Election, 77% of60-69 year olds and 84% of 70+ voters turned out, versus 57% of 18-19s and 59%of 20-24s.

Arguably one of the reasons why political parties in therecent past did not take issues that primarily affect younger people seriouslyis because there was little electoral incentive for them to do so. Effectively,democracy in Britain is the old determining the young’s access to education,social security, careers, housing, how seriously the climate emergency shouldbe taken, and what shape Brexit should take.

All are good reasons for why young people should vote. You,after all, are going to be the ones who live with the consequences of thiselection for the longest.

Who for?

What if you don’t know who to vote for? One common refrainfound among younger people is they don’t feel educated enough to make aninformed decision.

Having campaigned and spoken to thousands of voters over the years in my own capacity as a party activist, I can assure you that people who blame minority ethnicities, women, the LGBTQ community, or “foreigners” for the country’s problems are not so restrained.

It’s also easy to find out information about the parties. Every main party has published its list of pledges and vision for the next four or five years in their manifesto. You can access them here:

Do a little research

All the party leaders and plenty of activists are on socialmedia, and often use their respective platforms to promote policy, criticismsof other parties, memes and so on. And don’t feel afraid of asking yourfriends, your co-workers, and your fellow students their opinions to help makeup your mind. If you’re still unsure, think about what issue or issues you careabout the most and research the different party positions on that basis. A bitof search engine wizardry will reveal what the parties think.

Which party runs the government affects all aspects of your life, so voting is important. But who best reflects your concerns and priorities is up to you – so join me and millions of others in the polling station on 12 December to determine what the next four or five years are going to look like. Because, if you don’t, someone else will.

Phil Burton-Cartledge, Course Director of Law and Social Sciences, University of Derby

Related Articles