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Only 22 students living on the Lancaster University campus are currently registered to vote in the 2015 General Election, figures seen by SCAN have revealed. LUSU officers and local political figures were reportedly shocked at the relatively small amount of students on the university campus who have registered. The statistics may prove damaging to LUSU, who have made a commitment to improving political engagement on campus.
The campus currently houses approximately 6500 students, meaning only around 0.3 percent of potential voters on campus have registered. This small group of people are composed of 16 students who live on the main campus, and six students who live in the western half of Alexandra Park. No students in the eastern half of Alexandra Park have registered to vote. By comparison, the comparatively small local hamlet of Burrow Heights has 68 registered voters. The combined total of the hamlets of Bailrigg and Langthwaite, meanwhile, have 194 people who are registered to vote. If these statistics persist, the amount of students registered to vote relative to the population size could have negative implications for the representation of the university in local and national matters.
For previous general, local and European elections, students living on the Lancaster University campus were registered to vote on bulk by the University. A change in legislation by the UK government, however, means that students now have to register individually.
VP (Campaigns and Communications) Ronnie Rowlands said that his reaction to the figures was “one of greater disquiet than when I’d assumed the number was somewhere around 400! 22 is incredibly worrying.”
Rowlands told SCAN that LUSU intended to do a lot more to ensure the number of on-campus students registered to vote increased. “I do not expect to see a sudden spike in registrations that makes everything okay again,” Rowlands said. “It’s going to require a lot of long and hard work from the Union, but we have the time and the resources to see a steady and promising increase in the number of students registered to vote. I am absolutely confident that we can do it.
“Registering to vote is important, but also incredibly easy. Vote and you have a stake in what future governments do, and you have a reason for them to appease you. If you don’t vote, why should any political party care what you think?”
SCAN will bring you more coverage of this story in the coming days. The next UK General Election takes place on Thursday Week 3, Summer Term.