Skip to main content

Electoral Register: Students

Volume 482: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps his Department is taking to assist local authorities to increase the proportion of students registered to vote. (233723)

The Ministry of Justice undertakes a number of activities to encourage young people to participate in democracy, including holding open days for schools and colleges. As part of our Ministerial Youth Outreach Programme my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice) as Minister for Youth Engagement hosted our Your Voice Counts conference on 9 October 2007, which was attended by 143 young people, 19 MPs and 41 councillors.

Section 9 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 (EA Act) placed a duty on electoral registration officers (EROs) to take all necessary steps to maintain the electoral register, including sending the annual canvass form more than once and making house to house visits.

In addition, section 69 of the EA Act requires EROs to promote registration and electoral participation within their areas. Responsibility for assisting EROs in meeting this obligation lies with the Electoral Commission which is responsible for issuing guidance ERO on encouraging electoral registration.

Guidance issued by the Commission to help increase registration levels among young people suggests EROs should work with secondary schools and sixth-form colleges to identify and make 16 and 17-year-olds aware of the electoral process. The Commission also suggests that EROs attend university ‘freshers’ weeks and establish relationships with organisations or college staff responsible for assisting with accommodation, so that student details may be obtained.

It is for each local authority to adopt an approach that is appropriate to local circumstances when encouraging students to register to vote.