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Back in the middle of April, Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap general election for 8th June, a mere 6 weeks away from the day the announcement was made. Typically our general elections are every 5 years after a fixed parliamentary term, so to announce a snap general election is unusual in itself, but to announce it for 6 weeks time is almost unheard of. If you are over 18, are a British citizen, and have no legal issues that make you unable to vote, it is your right and you can vote in this election. Arguably this is one of the biggest elections in our lifetime, after Brexit, so getting out to vote is hugely important.
More people in the UK don’t vote than actually do vote. If everyone voted that is legally able to, the outcomes of our elections could be tremendously different. If you care about the NHS, about the rights of EU residents living here, about LGBTQIA* rights and so many more, voting is important. I’m not here to tell you how to vote, but I am here to tell you how to ensure you can vote.
Firstly, make sure you are registered to vote. You can do this online here, and you need to do it by 22nd May to be able to vote in this general election. You can also register to vote by post if that is your preference.
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Next, can you physically get to your local polling booth on the day of the vote? If you can vote in person, you should receive a poll card in the post to tell you where your polling booth is and what times it is open to vote, typically from 7am to 10pm. When you get to the polling station you don’t need your polling card, but will just give your name and address to the attendants and then you will be given a ballot. If you can’t physically go to your local polling station on the day, you have two choices, you can either nominate someone to vote for you by proxy, or you can apply to vote by post. If you choose to have someone vote for you by proxy you must have this done by at least 6 working days before the voting day. If you choose to use a postal vote you must have applied to do this at least 11 working days before the election. Personally, I’m applying for a postal vote this time round as I’ll be away on holiday on 8th June and want to exercise my right to vote. Anyone has the right to do a postal vote, but to vote by proxy you must have a specific reason that is on their list of reasons, so if you are in any doubt, apply for a postal vote.
There will be a lot of information thrown around over the next 6 weeks, and it can be overwhelming. Do you have any idea who you want to vote for? Maybe you’ve never voted before and have no idea which party your ideas align with. Personally I think that the 2017 I Side With website is a great way to give yourself an idea of which party you might be interested in. It asks you a range of questions with multiple choice answers, and aims to give you a rough idea of how your answers fit with different party policies. It doesn’t give you huge amounts of details, but it can be a great jumping off point for more research into the parties you most identify with.
If you aren’t sure how to make your vote count, I’d also suggest doing some research on how your constituency voted in 2015 in the last general election. You can do this on the BBC website here using your postcode. It’ll show you the amount of votes each party in your area received, and may give you an idea of which party to vote for if you don’t want another party to get in. Tactical voting is likely to be done all over the UK in this general election, and if you want to find out more about it I’d suggest a quick google of ‘tactical voting’. This article is aiming to not be biased, so I’m not going to link to any particular website about this.
You’ll be bombarded with information about every party and policy over the coming weeks, and being able to recognise hyperbolic or misleading news and do your own research is key. If you see someone post something you don’t think is true: google it! You’d be surprised how people can twist images and words to their own end.
This election could have tremendous implications for the future, so if you are able to and can, please get out there and vote!