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Gen Z, Despite Sunak’s Tactics, July’s General Election is Our Chance to Create Change

by Jess Clark 

On Wednesday 22nd May, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the next general election would be held on Thursday 4th July. 

Since the announcement, there has been some discussions on social media regarding the timing and the potential impact it could have on young voters, specifically students in this situation. 

Due to the election being held in early summer, many students may be on holiday or may have moved home due to the end of the University year, and they may not be registered to vote at their home address. 

This feels like a frustrating and subtle attempt at disenfranchising students, many of whom would not have been old enough to vote during the last general election in 2019. 

As a result of this, it is absolutely vital that students who may be away or not registered at their address are aware of the options available to them to ensure that their vote is cast. 

The deadline to register to vote is 23:59 on the 18th June. Students who may be at home for the summer can still register to vote at their home address if they are registered at their university address, but can only vote in one constituency on polling. 

The deadline to register for a vote is one day later on the 19th June, with the deadline to register for a proxy vote one week later, on the 26th June. 

The process to register to vote is incredibly quick, and you need to have your national insurance number on hand. 

It is vitally important that young people, and students are registered to vote in advance of the general election. 

According to the Electoral Commission, young people and students are the least likely to be registered to vote. 

In England, around 70% of 18-34 year olds in England are registered to vote, whereas around 96% of people over the age of 60 are registered to vote. 

The numbers are similar in Scotland, with 68% of under 34s being registered to vote, with this number being 95% for over 65s. 

In the climate of student protests and encampments across the country protesting against Universities supporting Israel, it is important that these views are translated into votes to allow young people to fully express their opinions, even if they feel that their options at the ballot box are futile.

The election comes as it has been reported by the Higher Education Policy Institute in September 2023 found that more than a quarter of universities have been running food banks for students. 

This also comes at a time when maintenance loans for students have not risen in line with inflation. 

These issues, coupled with the direct involvement of students in radical activism, gives them a perfect opportunity to make their voices heard due to the policies of the current government that may have directly impacted them. 

Young people cannot allow the timing of the election to mean that their vote goes to waste, which is why we need to share and communicate the information regarding voter registration and postal votes as widely as possible. 

Information is power during election campaigns, and is the only way in which any tangible change may come alongside activism and actions that hold those in power to account for policies and decisions they may have made. 

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