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Potential Disenfranchisement: UK Students Fear Losing Voice in October General Election



Last Updated on March 24, 2024 by Robert C. Hoopes

Universities and student unions are expressing concerns over the possibility of an October general election, warning that hundreds of thousands of students may be unable to vote due to time constraints in registering them. This comes after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt hinted at a potential October election date, causing anxiety among universities already struggling with the logistics of ensuring student voter registration.

Local councils may not have enough time to update electoral registers with new student addresses in time for an October election, potentially disenfranchising many students. The new government rules around voting require individuals to register themselves, leading to worries that students may not prioritize this during a busy time of year.

The National Union of Students is advocating for universities to implement automatic enrolment systems to assist students in registering to vote. Many students may not be aware that their student card will not be accepted as proof of identity at polling stations under the new requirements for approved photo ID.

Historically, Labour has performed better in constituencies with a high student population, while the Conservatives have struggled. The last general election held in October was in 1974, with UK general elections typically taking place in May or June. With the possibility of an October election looming, there are growing concerns about students being left out of the democratic process.

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