Student vote could be crucial in general election
Release Date 05 February 2015
Students could play a decisive role in the forthcoming UK general election - but first must make sure they are registered to vote.
That's the message from leaders of the University of Reading and Reading University Students' Union (RUSU), which is running a campaign this week (2-6 February) to encourage students to sign up to the electoral register.
Changes in the way the register is created mean that individuals must now sign up themselves, rather than heads of household having the responsibility. This has big implications in particular for students living in halls of residence, where previously residents were registered automatically by University authorities.
Reading has 5,000 students living in halls of residence, which are divided across two adjoining constituencies. 1,300 live in the Wokingham constituency of John Redwood MP, with the remainder in the Reading East seat currently held by Rob Wilson MP. Many thousands more live close to campus in private accommodation across both areas.
Natalie Harper, president of RUSU, said: "Students in Reading play an active part in community life, which should include having a say in who represents them in Parliament. So it's crucial that they register to vote if they want to take part on polling day.
"While some will already be registered at a home address, it's possible for students to register at both home and term-time addresses. That's important if they want to vote in the general election, as most students will still be in Reading on May 7."
Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: "Registering to vote is a vital first step in the democratic process. It is not difficult - you can do it by post, online or on your phone, and it only takes a few minutes - but individuals have to take the responsibility themselves.
"I am confident that Reading students, many of whom will be voting in a national election for the first time, will seize the opportunity to pick their Parliamentary representatives."