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Come on Prime Minister - With Just Days to Go Until the Deadline to Register, Please Stop Ignoring Young People's Right to Vote

16/04/2016 17:32

I was glad to see the Government writing to universities and colleges this week to encourage student voter registration, as I have been asking them to do for months.

Unfortunately, this action comes far too late, with just days left for people to register to vote for the all-important elections in May - and the letter makes no mention of the deadline on Monday, focussing solely on the later deadline for the EU referendum!

I'm delighted the Government have finally changed their minds on communicating with universities and colleges, after months of pressure by Labour.

Cabinet Office Minister John Penrose didn't agree to this in his reply to my letter, urging him to give universities guidance on how to register their students. He has completely ignored the letter I sent him way back in February, asking for action to help schools, colleges and universities register their students.

And the Prime Minister has still not responded to the letter I sent him well over a month ago, calling for more to be done in schools, universities and colleges to help young people register.

This letter was signed by 16 organisations passionate about young people's right to vote, including NUS, Universities UK, Bite the Ballot and many more besides, who will share my frustration that nothing has been done sooner.

I'm so disappointed that colleges and universities will only be receiving Government guidance just days before the deadline to register for next month's crucial elections. Given we know that university towns have seen the biggest drop off in voter registration, the Government should also have issued support on how to register their students to vote when they enrol on their courses, which has been proven successful in places like Sheffield and Cardiff.

And still nothing has been done about the 40% of 16 and 17 year olds who have fallen off the register due to the Government's rushed changes to voter registration last year - despite our calls for the Schools Initiative.

Even though the Government has left it lamentably late for the May elections, let's make sure that young people get their say in the biggest decision of their lifetimes - the referendum on our EU membership.

Come on Prime Minister - if you don't want to reply to me, at least have some respect for the sixteen organisations representing young people, headteachers, lecturers and school teachers who want to hear from you about your plans to support them in getting the next generation on the electoral register.

Don't forget to register by Monday 18 April to have your voice heard - it takes less than three minutes at gov.uk/register-to-vote

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