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Lancaster University Labour Club has launched a voter registration campaign in an attempt to counter what some are deeming to be worrying changes to registration and future plans to review constituency boundaries.
Explaining why the need to register is so pressing, Co-Vice Chair Cat Finnerty, told SCAN “the boundaries for the next general election are being decided after December. Without voter registration now, Lancaster students will be ignored when it comes to deciding what our parliamentary seat will look like”.
An official inquiry by the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee in Westminster recommended the number of seats be cut from 650 to 600 and boundaries will be redrawn ahead of the 2020 General Election.
Boundary reform was first put on the agenda by the Conservative Party in the previous Coalition Government, only to find their plans scuppered by Liberal Democrat resistance.
Critics argue the changes will unfairly advantage the Conservatives in the future, making it harder for their opponents to secure a parliamentary majority. The Government defends the changes, saying it could save up to £12 million a year and that equally sized constituencies will make elections fairer.
One of the main factors being taken into account in determining what seats will look like are the number of registered voters in a given constituency, something the Labour Club hope to address with their campaign.
Leah Wescott Graham, Equalities Secretary, believes “voter registration is the most critically important political issue affecting young people today.”
“We have to make sure that it’s something that all young people are aware of,” she continued. “By December 2015, 1000,000 will have fallen off the electoral register with the new change to the voting system. This means that thousands of young people could be denied their right to vote if they don’t re-register.”
She was also keen to stress that Labour Club didn’t view this as a party political issue. “This issue isn’t dependent on party differences- it’s about ensuring that young people take back their right to be involved in politics and a large part of that is guaranteeing that they can vote on elections that directly them.”
In previous years students were automatically registered to vote by their university, however changes brought in by the Coalition before the last General Election required individual registration in place of the prior system.
Readers can register to vote online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote