Labour MP calls for more polling stations in universities

More polling stations should be set up in universities to encourage students to vote, an MP has told the House of Commons.

January 7, 2014

Paul Blomfield, a member of the Business Innovation and Skills committee, said the move would encourage 18-year-olds to develop the habit of voting.

Labour will be keen to maximise voting among young people in next year’s general election, in the hope of capitalising on the Liberal Democrats’ trauma over the broken pledge to oppose fee rises. The party may believe it has a chance of using the fees issues to unseat Liberal Democrat MPs, particularly in seats with a sizeable student vote.

Mr Blomfield, whose Sheffield Central constituency borders the Sheffield Hallam constituency of Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, put a question on polling stations to Cabinet office minister Greg Clark in the Commons today.

“Ministers will recognise the particularly challenge of engaging young people in the electoral process,” he said.

“Will the minister [say] what consideration has been given to having polling stations in sixth-form colleges, further education colleges and universities to encourage 18-year-olds to vote?”

According to Mr Blomfield, Mr Clark “undertook to consider the issue further”.

Mr Blomfield added afterwards: “There is a danger that, if younger people disengage from the political system, they will lose their voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

“In a week when the Prime Minister has been offering pledges to pensioners, who vote in large numbers, we might ask why young people have faced the worst of this government’s policies – with rising long-term youth unemployment, abolition of Education Maintenance Allowances and trebling of university fees. Maybe it would have been different if they voted in larger numbers.”

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