Skip to main content

Voter Registration (Students)

Volume 524: debated on Tuesday 1 March 2011

1. What steps the Electoral Commission is taking to improve levels of voter registration among students. (42461)

The commission runs campaigns before every election to encourage electors to register to vote. These typically include activities targeted at students. The commission is running a public awareness campaign ahead of the May 2011 elections and referendum, which will include working with student unions and other student groups across the UK to promote awareness of the election and referendum and the voter registration deadline.

In the Loughborough constituency, 12,000 students are studying at university, yet only 50% or so are on the electoral register. Registration is patchy among those in halls and those living out. It is important that students register to vote because for many of them this will be the first election in which they can vote. Is my hon. Friend happy that the Electoral Commission is providing specific guidance on the fact that they can be registered at their home and also where they are studying?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. We are confident that all the information that students need is on the Electoral Commission website, but the role of local electoral registration officers, student unions and universities in getting that information across to students is critical.

The Electoral Commission has had discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister about the use of national data sources to aid registration levels. Does this extend to the use of the national insurance database, which contains rising 16-year-olds? Giving them early experience of electoral registration might improve subsequent levels of registration by students.

The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point. I know that these matters are being discussed between the Deputy Prime Minister’s Department and the Electoral Commission. Hopefully, these discussions will come to a fruitful conclusion before too long.