STUDENTS
03/02/2015 13:32 GMT | Updated 04/02/2015 11:59 GMT

Voter Decline In Young People 'A National Scandal'

Students and first-time voters will play a crucial role in deciding which parties govern their future at the general election in May, but new research reveals more than 1.3m youths haven't even signed up to vote.

With less than one hundred days until the country goes to the polls, 30% of 18 to 24 year olds are yet to register, partly thanks to government plans to sign up voters individually rather than by household.

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Introduced to help prevent electoral fraud, the unintended knock-on effect could leave huge numbers of students and young people without representation in parliament for the next five years, says anti-extremist organisation Hope Not Hate.

"The drop off is concentrated in many of the key seats what will determine the outcome of the election. That's a national scandal - and we need to do something," chief executive of Hope Not Hate Nick Lowles told HuffPost UK.

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Lancaster was revealed to have been hit the hardest by the new voter registration scheme, with only 22 out of a possible 7,500 students registered to vote in one ward.

East Sussex has seen a near-on 90% drop in voters, plunging from 3,500 registered students in 2014 to just 377 this year. One hall of residence was shown to have 800 students living in it but only 25 registered.

According to Lowles, other cities adversely affected by the new voter registration scheme include Leeds, Brighton, Birmingham, Newcastle and the outer fringes of London, including Dagenham.

Previously, universities were able to register students in bulk, usually by their halls of residence. However, the government no longer allows this. Young adults, particularly those living in private rented accommodation, have also been squeezed, as have newer immigrant communities.