The British Youth Council are working with the Electoral Commission and the National Union of Students to launch a new viral campaign alongside a number of other organisations in a bid to get remaining 3 in 10 students and young people registered to vote ahead of the General Election in May.
Called #regafriend (‘Register a Friend’), the campaign will urge students and young people who have already registered to vote to encourage their non-registered friends and family to now do the same, by sharing messages and photos on social media.
BYC also released their latest findings from a YouGov poll (end of Febraury) which reveal that 71% of 18-24 year-olds say they are definitely registered and another 14% possible are, providing evidence that the voter registration campaigns are having an impact and there is still over 4 weeks to go to the closing date of 20th April.
The initiative – which will launch on 19 March – is also being supported by a range of other organisations including the Association of Colleges (AoC), London Youth, The Scout Association, YMCA and the National Association of College & University Entrepreneurs (NACUE).
Mita Desai, Chair of the British Youth Council, said: “The British Youth Council believes that the Youth Vote will matter in this election if enough register and turn out, so we are delighted to be supporting the Electoral Commission’s Register A Friend initiative. We have lots of friends and we ll be encouraging them all to register. Our new polling with YouGov shows that 71% of 18-24 year olds said they were definitely registered at the end of February, and as many as 14% more think they are. So to those who are already registered we appeal – get your friends to register as well.”
Michael Abbott, Head of Campaigns at the Electoral Commission,said: “Too many young people are still not registered to vote to have their say on 7 May. Over half also don’t know they can register to vote online. But plenty of young people are passionate about voting and this campaign aims to use the power of social networks to help them spread the word about the importance and ease of registering. Time is running short and if students and young people want to have their say they must take action now by registering at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.”
Toni Pearce, NUS President,said: “I’m incredibly excited about this new initiative and I can’t wait to see students getting involved with the campaign and getting more young people registered to vote. With the general election fast approaching, NUS and students’ unions are doing loads of great work across the country to raise awareness of the new voter registration system, and we would encourage anyone who is unsure to go to the new online voter registration site and check if they are registered.
“Students look set to play a key role in determining the result of the general election, and politicians are right to recognise their importance. Students are calling for a new deal and for politicians to outline a positive vision for the future, and it is incredibly important that they are encouraged to take part in democracy, not kept out from it.”
Hannah Kentish, UK Youth Commissioner for the Scout Association, said: “We know that there are so many people who have not yet registered to vote so they can take part in the elections in May. We have close to 10,000 young adults who are our members who will be first time voters. We don’t want any of them to not get their voice heard, so we’ll be encouraging the young adults we work with to get behind the campaign, register themselves and ask their friends to do the same.”
The campaign begins with a person encouraging their friend to register to vote. Then, once that friend has registered, they can also take a photo of themselves making a ‘voter cross’ before sharing that photo on Facebook or Twitter, along with a message saying they’ve encouraged a friend to register and their friends or followers should do the same. The message will include the hashtag #RegAFriend and a link towww.gov.uk/register-to-vote, where people can register to vote online.