A General Election is coming - but why does it matter?

A General Election is going to be held in the UK on Thursday 4th July. If you are an International student, a first-time voter, or just keen to know what this means for you - check out this article to get answers to your questions.

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A General Election is Coming, But Why Does it Matter to Me? 

If you’ve been online in the past few days, you’ve probably noticed that the UK is suddenly about to have a General Election- but what does that mean for you? If you’re a first-time voter, an International student, or just confused about this very sudden change to everyday life in the UK, we’ve got you! Take a look at this article to get answers to your questions, and make sure to REGISTER TO VOTE BY 18TH JUNE. 

 

What is a General Election? 

  • General Elections are the UK’s version of a Presidential election in the USA. This is when we will choose the next Prime Minister of our country. Right now, the Prime Minister is Rishi Sunak, a Conservative, and he has decided that the next General Election will take place on 4th July. 

  • Unlike in America, we don’t vote specifically for a Prime Minister. Across the country, people will elect their MPs (Members of Parliament), who each represent a political party. There are 650 seats for MPs, and the party with the majority of these seats wins the election, and their leader becomes Prime Minister. 

 

Why does it matter to me? 

  • The party who wins this General Election will have control of how our public services (like schools and the NHS) are funded, which laws are passed, and whether or not student tuition fees increase, amongst many, many other things!  

  • A General Election always has the power to change the direction of UK politics, and a big student turnout could have the power to change the outcome of the election! 

  •  This vote matters to everyone in the country and is the moment when power transfers from the Prime Minister and MPs to us, the voting public. So make your voice heard! 

 

Okay, I want to vote! How do I do that? 

  • If this is your first time voting in the UK, make sure that you’re registered to vote at your current address by 18th June. If you register later than that, you won’t be able to vote on 4th July. 

  • Register to vote here: Register to vote - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

 

But I’m an International student! Can I vote?

  • As an International student, you may think that none of this matters to you, but there is actually a high chance that you’re eligible to vote in this election! Being able to vote is actually a perk of having a Commonwealth citizenship, and other International students are also eligible to vote- you can find out if you can vote using this tool: Home - Can I Vote? 

 

I have multiple addresses, which one should I be registered at

  • Students will usually live in different places during and after the academic year. You are allowed to be registered to vote in two different places, as long as you only cast a vote in one. Whatever address you will be living at on 4th July, make sure you’re registered to vote there! If you will be in London or Kent, but have moved since the last time you voted, make sure to re-register with your new address. Students move more frequently than most people, so make sure to check if you’re registered for your current address. 

 

But I’m out of the country on 4th July! How will I vote? 

 

I’m already registered to vote at my current address, what do I need to do now? 

  • Find out where your polling station is. Once you’ve registered to vote, you can use your postcode to find out where you go to cast your ballot! These places are called polling stations, and are run by volunteers throughout election day. You’ll receive a polling card through the post which will tell you where to go, but you can also check on this website in case you lose that piece of paper! Find your polling station | Where Do I Vote? 

 

How do I decide who to vote for? 

  • This is a personal decision, and we all have individual thoughts and feelings about the different parties and politicians involved in this General Election. It’s important that we all do our research, and make sure that the people we are voting for align with our views, and will represent us effectively. The best way to do this is to look at a party’s manifesto. These documents describe each party’s priorities, and how they plan to make the UK a better place to live. 

  • You may also feel strongly about certain issues, whether that’s the environment, renters’ rights, public services or the job market. You can keep an eye out for how each party addresses these issues throughout the election campaign. They have six weeks to win your vote, so will do their best to appeal to you! 

 

Your General Election Checklist: 

  1. Make sure you’re registered to vote by 18th June
  2. Check your voting location, or apply for a postal or proxy vote
  3. Get your photo ID ready
  4. Read everyone’s manifestos
  5. Vote on 4th July

 

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