Farron: Britain’s position in the world is in the hands of its youngest voters

Tim Farron has launched a campaign to persuade young people to register to vote in the EU referendum, saying that this country’s position in the world is in the hands of these young voters. He also called on the Electoral Commission to do more to encourage young people to register before Monday’s deadline. He said:

In these next few short weeks, the post-war European project of peace, co-operation and prosperity lies in Britain’s hands. This vote will hinge on young people and them getting out and making their voice heard.

The Electoral Commission have a responsibility to help people vote, at the moment they are in dereliction of that duty when it comes to students and younger people.

I am today launching a campaign to urge young people to register to vote in the last 96 hours. Britain’s position in the world is in the hands of the youngest voters, I am urging them to take 10 minutes, sign up and make their voices heard, loudly and clearly.

But should it be this way? Why should it be up to people to register for what is effectively their right as a citizen of the country?

A blog on Democratic Audit highlights some of the issues with the current system. Returning Officers are concerned about the quality of the registers since the recent changes:

 Findings from a University of East Anglia survey of electoral administrators showed that two-thirds of electoral administrators agreed that citizens had complained to them about the process being bureaucratic. And worryingly, roughly half of electoral officials thought that the completeness of the register had declined.

And the last minute surges of people applying just before a deadline (although don’t let that stop you for the referendum) causes problems too.

A late surge in registrations may therefore cause a further challenge for the UK’s electoral machinery. Officials will have to check each application against government databases to ensure that they are legitimate registrations. If citizens are unsure whether or not they are on the register, they will need to phone up their local officials to ask them (if they can find the number). Many of those who are already registered, might decide to apply again, just to make sure, leaving another application to be processed. Many electoral services may therefore be under strain.

A report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Democratic Participation made a number of recommendations about how this situation could and should be improved, making 25 recommendations, including piloting on the day electoral registration and automatic registration for all eligible citizens.

Is a government truly legitimate if there are so many unnecessary barriers to even casting a vote?

In the meantime, ask every young person in particular that you come into contact with over the next 3 days whether they are registered to vote. If they aren’t, get them to do so here. If they don’t have a NI number and they are still at school, they can just give the name of the school.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Bit late in the day for this, should of been promoting voter registration to young people month back; instead of wasting time and effort vainly tilting at the windmill of votes for 16 year olds…

  • Tsar Nicholas 4th Jun '16 - 5:24pm

    It is my impression that the previous system of household registration worked well and was not changed for any other reason than that it was felt to be too patriarchal, relying as it did on the notion of ‘head of household.’

    Another case of the alaw of unintended consequences hitting back.

  • Tsar Nicholas Not only patriarchal, but also more encouraging of postal vote fraud.

  • I’m now 58, but was young once.

    Never found it terribly difficult to get onto the electoral roll – even when I was at university.

  • Peter Watson 4th Jun '16 - 10:41pm

    Given that the Remain side chose the date of the referendum, I feel that they have shot themselves in the foot. Many young people, who appear more likely to support remaining in the EU, are busy with exams and/or in the middle of moving back home from university. Also, since the Coalition introduced changes which might have made it less likely that students would be registered (and generally behaved in a way that may have increased cynicism and mistrust of those politicians now campaigning actively for a Remain vote) it seems particularly ironic.

  • Chris Rennard 5th Jun '16 - 12:21am

    It is very important to do all that we can, however, late in the day to get more (especially) young people registered. Some of us have been campaigning on the issue for some years! See the most recent debate in the House of Lords led by Roger Roberts, and in which Sarah Ludford, Julie Smith and I spoke from our benches. This was my contribution: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2016-05-26a.539.1#g545.0
    I was also a co-author of the blog published by Democratic Audit yesterday and referred to above.

  • It’s important to do this – but where has Tim launched this campaign. It isn’t mentioned on his twitter feed (though he has tweeted a tribute to Mohammed Ali), the party’s twitter feed, the party website and there is nothing in the way of back up resources.

    What Tim has done has sent out a press release thinking that is a campaign. It’s Tim’s leadership all over – disorganised and off the pace.

  • The most useful thing people can do is share the vote registration link on any forums or discussion groups they are on – particularly none political ones. Much more likely to reach unregistered voters than posts on political websites or partisan social media.

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