OPINION: Is having the general election in July disenfranchising younger voters?

It’s official. July 4th is no longer a day just for the Yanks. Mark your calendars folks because it’s finally time to flock to the polls and have our say in the next UK General Election. 

It’s been a long time coming, waiting for Rishi to announce when the election will be. However, here at Messy, we can’t help but question if there was an ulterior motive behind choosing July to have the election specifically. 

On the surface, July appears just the same as any other month of the year. But consider this. In July, a large proportion of people aged 18-24 will be moving house. Whether that be moving to university halls or into a new house share, which will more than likely also see them move to an entirely new, unfamiliar place in the process. On top of this, final year students may also be moving home after completing their studies.

This leaves a significant number of young people unregistered to vote in their new city, or having to race to update their address on the electoral register in order to be able to vote.

Coincidentally, according to a survey by YouGov published in March 2024, people in the UK aged 18-24 are also the least likely to vote for the Conservative Party than any other age group in the country. 

The survey also revealed that young people are also more likely to vote Labour, the Tory’s biggest competitors for the upcoming election. 

It could be an unfortunate coincidence that the election has been called at a rather inconvenient time for young people, but it would also be unsurprising if it was a conscious decision by the current government in order to stack the odds in their favour. 

The new voter ID rules that were called into effect last year were sneakily less tailored to younger voters, with, for example, over 60 Oyster cards being an acceptable form of ID to take to the polling stations, but the 18+ student Oyster card being insufficient. Therefore, strategically choosing this particular election date would not be the first time the Tory government has cast young voters to the side. 

Acknowledging this possibility isn’t going to change the date of the election, so we can only offer you advice on how to ensure you can make your vote count. Be sure to familiarise yourself with your local or soon to be local candidate’s policies and manifestos, making sure you know who and what you will be voting for. 

Update your address on the electoral register as soon as possible, to make sure you receive your poll card in the post. If you are unsure what your situation will be come July, you can also register to vote by post or by proxy. The most important thing is ensuring you know your options so your voice can be heard and you can have your say.

Vote! Vote! Vote!

For more information about the general election and other current affairs and how they could impact you, click here.

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