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How to make your vote count as a UoB student

Want to make a real difference this election but don’t know how?

The truth is that our politicians don’t really care that much about young people – and why should they? In the last general election, only 57% of 18 to 25-year olds voted, and although this was the largest turnout of young people in recent history, when you compare it to the 84% of people over 70 that voted, it’s no wonder our generation is often ignored. It doesn’t make all that much sense for politicians to try and appeal to the smallest voting demographic, which is why the decisions they make often seem to make us worse off.

How can I make a difference?

It’s all well and good having a moan about the state of the NHS with your mates at the pub, but if we’re really going to to make things better, we need to take direct action! In other words, we need to vote. Young people and students all over the country need to hit the polls en-masse so that politicians know that we do matter, that we do care about the state of our country, and that our vote is worth fighting for. Only then will they pass policies that benefit us.

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How can I make my vote count?

The outcome of this election will determine the very course of British history – it’s an out-and-out battle, with the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party all fighting for their place in parliament. And so, if you haven’t heard of tactical voting before, it’s probably something you need to know about if you want to make sure your vote has the most impact it can.

Tactical voting basically means backing a party you wouldn’t ordinarily support in the hope of keeping another party out. For example, if a seat is between Labour and the Conservatives, a Liberal Democrat supporter might choose to vote Labour, whilst a Brexit Party supporter might vote Tory. If you’re stuck between two different political parties or wouldn’t mind your second favourite political party getting in, tactical voting could definitely be something to think about.

In an ideal world, everyone should vote with their conscience, but the first-past-the-post voting system in the UK means that it doesn’t always work out that way. If you want your vote to have the most impact, tactical voting can be seen as a necessary evil.

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For students in particular, it’s definitely worth thinking about, because you can register to vote at home and at uni. You can decide where you want to vote on the day, but it is essential that you DO NOT vote twice – this is illegal and detrimental to the UK democratic process.

If you want your vote to have the most impact on the national result, you should think about voting in the most marginal seat – the constituency that had the closest result in the last election. You can check how marginal a constituency is using this tool here. But if you care about issues in one constituency more than another, you may want to vote there instead.

What do I do now?

Firstly, if you’re not yet registered to vote, make sure you do so by the 26th November!

Really – we mean it.

Unless you plan on going home for Christmas super early, if you want to vote at home, you’ll probably have to sign up for either a postal or proxy vote too. In both cases, this must be done by the end of November. To find more about both of these options, you can visit the government website.

There are loads of websites out there that will help you decide which party to vote for if you do choose to vote tactically. A word of warning though – not all websites will give you an impartial result, so make sure you check who owns the site and consider what benefit they might have for telling you how to vote! This article from the Telegraph covers all bases, whether you support leave or remain, but ultimately, you’ve got to remember that the decision is yours alone to make.