Student vote encouraged by online forum’s campaign

The Student Room has launched a campaign to get its members to register to vote so they can affect results in marginal seats in the general election

April 8, 2015

Dubbed the “together we matter” campaign, the movement aims to convince the online forum’s 1.8 million users to register and to vote, as well as campaigning for the voting age to be lowered to 16.

The Student Room says that it is used by 75 per cent of UK students, and will be visited by more than 4 million 18- to 24-year-olds in the run-up to the election. Its campaign aims specifically to target the 10 student constituency seats with the lowest majorities.

The campaign could be good news for Labour. A 2014 report by the Higher Education Policy Institute indicated that “students are not as powerful an electoral force as is sometimes supposed, but they could swing the result in just over 10 constituencies – principally to the advantage of the Labour Party. In a close fight, that could be enough to hold the keys to power.”

A poll conducted by the Student Room’s general election forum had Labour leading the pack with 34 per cent of the student vote, compared with the Conservatives’ 21 per cent, followed by the Green Party at 17 per cent.

Jack Wallington, community director for the Student Room, said: “The student vote has never been more crucial to the overall composition of the next government. We aim to encourage students to make the most of this fact, and make sure their voices are heard.”

The campaign is designed in part to combat the bureaucratic hurdles posed by the introduction of Individual Voter Registration, a system whereby voters must register themselves rather than as a household.

Hepi’s report warned that the new registration system was a potential bar to student voters as they were “often young and live in relatively short-term rented accommodation, typically with only loose links to the communities in which they reside”.

The Student Room campaign will include live Q&A sessions with party leaders and a series of promotions and social media campaigns encouraging students to register and use their vote. It also intends to drum up support for the NUS’ petition to reduce the UK voting age to 16.

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