Wherever You Will Be on 23 June, You Have Just One Week to Get Registered

31/05/2016 07:39 | Updated 01 June 2016

young voter

There are just over three weeks before one of the most important votes in our country's history. The EU referendum on 23 June will be a defining decision for this generation of young Brits. Many have already made up their mind - polls show us that most of Britain's young people support staying in the European Union. But as we get closer to polling day one thing is clear - it doesn't matter which way you intend to vote, if you aren't registered to vote in the place you will be in on 23 June, your voice won't be heard.

The stakes couldn't be higher. Leaving the EU will affect our economy, our education and the future of an entire generation. Report after report shows the results of leaving - youth unemployment up, apprenticeships at risk, wages falling and slowing economic growth. Britain remains a world-leader in education - but we have to protect that. By staying in the European Union we will safeguard work and study placements for some 200,000 students abroad as part of the Erasmus scheme and ensure that students are free to travel and study without expensive visas or restrictions. Our universities are telling us they need to stay in the EU to protect billions of pounds of funding that allows us to compete with other countries. To put it bluntly - the generation after next will be even worse off than ours if we vote to leave.

So when does the Government decide to hold this all-important, generation-defining vote? Right in the middle of exams, outside of university term-time and at the height of festival season, as young music-lovers trek off around the country, to Glastonbury and all around Europe.

Because the referendum takes place outside of university term-times, many students who registered to vote at the recent local elections may need to re-register if they will be at a different address on 23 June.

A recent poll for Universities UK reveals that only 56% of students registered at their term-time address are likely to be there on polling day. A quarter who are only registered at their university address say they won't be there on 23 June.

So we now also have an uphill battle not only to get young people registered to vote by the deadline of 7 June, but also to get them registered in the right location, or even for a postal or proxy vote.

If you aren't sure if you are registered in the right place, please register now at You might not know that students are entitled to register at both their home and university addresses. So if you aren't sure where you will be on 23 June, cover all bases by registering twice - though of course you can only vote in one place on polling day. Think about registering for a postal or proxy vote, so you can vote early or allow a trusted friend or family member to vote for you.

Labour and the NUS have teamed up throughout the past year to ensure that students and young people understand the importance of voting, and crucially the need to register. We consistently warned that the rushed move to individual electoral registration (IER) would make it even more difficult to ensure the views of young people are heard. Unsurprisingly, some 1.5million people have dropped off the electoral register since the introduction of IER, and it's taken David Cameron far too long to realise he needs young people to vote in this vital poll.

The Prime Minister was slow to heed our warnings - and we now have just seven days to make sure that thousands of students and young people fill in that all-important voter registration form. We have to make sure you have a voice in our country's future - and there's a danger that if you aren't registered to vote, a more Eurosceptic generation could decide the outcome in June. Some eight million over-65s are prepared to go out and vote, compared to only 1.4million 18-24 year olds - and let's remember that polls suggest that 70% of that older generation are going to go out and vote leave. So once you've registered, why not talk to your parents and grandparents to make sure they know just how important the EU is to your future?

We have just seven days to get even more names back on that electoral register. Then we have just two weeks to ensure that students and young people head out and vote to remain in Europe.

We are a growing, dynamic, diverse generation that does not fear internationalism, but rightly fears isolation. We can only hope that the government hasn't left it too late to realise that shutting young people out of our democracy isn't the way to win a referendum, let alone raise a generation of active citizens who play their part in our society.

Now is the time to sign-up - register to vote by 7 June and get making the case for Britain in Europe.

Gloria De Piero is the Shadow Minister for Voter Registration and Young People

Rob Young is a Labour Party activist and LGBT+ Officer and Vice President-elect at the National Union of Students

HuffPost UK Young Voices is running a fortnight-long focus on the EU Referendum, examining what is at stake for Britain's young people on 23 June and why it's imperative you register to vote and have your say. If you want to have your say and blog on our platform around this topic, email Register to vote here.