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Young people urged to register to vote as Gloucestershire elections loom

By Ben_Falconer  |  Posted: February 05, 2014

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YOUNG people who haven’t registered to vote could miss out on shaping their futures as May elections loom.

Local council elections and European elections will be held in just a few months’ time, as a national survey suggests up to 800,000 young adults haven’t signed up across the UK.

After the next round of elections, the onus will be on the individual, rather than the household, to register too.

The Electoral Reform survey found 24 per cent of 18 to 21-year-olds had not registered. It comes as the deadline for the ‘Bite the Ballot’ campaign passed, aiming to get 250,000 new registered voters by yesterday.

Gloucester’s Conservative MP Richard Graham said the evidence on young people and voting is mixed.

“We have had our first primary school council meetings in my office, about two weeks ago,” he said. “That was with Widden school and though they’re not able to vote for some time, they are interested and they want to know what they can do to change things.

“The people I meet who are studying politics at Gloucestershire College and the sixth forms are interested but there are others who are not.

“It’s a right they should be proud to have. Anyone who has been fortunate to travel abroad will know how much people in countries like Zimbabwe value democracy.”

Steve Jordan, Liberal Democrat leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, said young people are interested in politics - but it tends to interest them more when something affects them.

“They are interested in certain issues but that does not mean they want to get involved in voting,” he said.

“People are not apathetic but they don’t see voting as a way to change things.

“I saw on the news a young person saying that they didn’t vote because no-one listens to them - that’s why they should vote.”

He said Cheltenham Borough Council is working to make sure people know of big issues coming up, such as housing developments, so they can become involved.

European Parliament elections will be held on May 22, meaning most local authorities will hold their elections on the same day.

One third of Gloucester City Council’s seats will be up for election, while half of Cheltenham Borough Council’s 40 seats will be contested too.

All of Forest of Dean District Council’s seats will be contested on May 7 next year but polling stations will open for European elections this year.

Voters will go to the polls for one third of Stroud District Council’s seats on May 22. The deadline for registering to vote is May 12.

“We have explained in our annual canvass that 16 and 17-year-olds can register so they will be eligible to vote when they turn 18 but some households don’t fill it in,” said a Stroud District Council spokesman.

“However as a result of the annual canvass from October to February, we added 1,323 16 and 17-year-olds - the figure was 1,246 last year.”

County council elections will take place in May 2017.

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