How do I register?
You can register online here: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
It’s an easy process that shouldn’t take you longer than five minutes to complete. The only thing that might catch you out is your National Insurance Number, so make sure you know it beforehand. You’ll be able to find it on your National Insurance Numbercard (the blue and red one) which every citizen living in the UK gets on their 16th birthday. If not, you might find it on payslips, your P60, letters about tax or other financial documentation.
Worst comes to worst, call 0300 200 3500 to get it sent out to you within 10 days.
If you don’t register before the deadline, you won’t be able to vote and your voice will go unheard.
I live in Stoke-on-Trent/Stafford/Shrewsbury during term-time, do I vote here or at home?
As a student, you may have the choice to vote at your home or term-time address.
You can make this choice when you register, but we at the Union recommend you take your vote home. Our students come from all over the UK and we want to encourage each of you to learn about your local constituency and have your say. You can start by using the links later in the FAQs.
Remember, you can only vote in one constituency during a General Election. To vote twice is a criminal offence.
How can I vote?
There’s the old fashioned way: taking your polling card down to your local polling station and putting a big X by your chosen party, but there’s other methods to suit…
If you’re going to be away from your polling station and/or constituency on June 8th, a postal vote is probably the best way to get involved. You have to apply in advance for this, by filling out the form linked here www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-vote, then making sure it reaches the Electoral Registration Office by May 23rd.
Lastly there’s voting by proxy, which just means that a family member or trusted friend can vote on your behalf. Here’s the application form: www.gov.uk/apply-vote-proxy, just make sure it reaches the Electoral Registration Office before May 31st.
Who am I voting for?
Within your constituency, you’ll be voting for one candidate, most of which represent a political party, such as Labour, Conservatives or the Green Party, but some will be Independent. The winner will become Member of Parliament for your area.
This translates to the big picture, as the party that holds over 50% of constituencies in the UK (326) forms the new government, with their leader becoming Prime Minister.
Things get a bit more complex if a party doesn’t get half the seats, resulting in a hung parliament. Click here to find out more: www.parliament.uk/education/about-your-parliament/general-elections/
I don’t know anything about my constituency or local MP. How do I find out more?
Reading local news or talking to friends or family in the know is a good way to form your own opinions, but to get started here are two nifty websites to see if your views match those of your MP and their party.
http://www.theyworkforyou.com - This is perfect for seeing how your MP has voted on recent big issues, from LGBTQ+ rights to tuition fees. You can also see how workshy they may or may not be.
http://www.electoralcalculus.co.uk/newseatlookup.html - This site tells you how the political parties have performed in your constituency previously, as well as the electoral makeup of your neighbours. Always an interesting read.
How do I decide?
It’s easy to register, it’s easy to vote, but it’s not always easy to decide how.
With so many issues to consider it can be an overwhelming task, especially as you have to consider what is the best choice for you locally and nationally. The media will make it about the slogans and cruel personality sniping, all depending on their inevitable political biases. Try to put this aside.
Decide on the issues that matter to you the most, whether it’s the NHS, tuition fees, house prices, immigration, the EU, anything at all, then spend a little bit of time seeing how each party stands on the matter. It’ll be easy after that.
We’ll be bringing you more unbiased information on the General Election in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.