Polling day is five weeks away, but you can only confront the big question – who do I vote for? – once you have navigated the basics, such as registering to vote. For students, there’s often an extra layer of complexity, as many divide their lives between home and university.
Here, we answer a selection of election questions sent to us by under 25-year-olds.
How do I know that I’m registered to vote? – Josh Payne, West Sussex
You are not automatically registered to vote.
If you don’t know whether you are already registered to vote, and where, you can check by contacting your local council’s electoral services team, or the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland, in Northern Ireland.
If you find out that you haven’t registered, you’ll need to get your skates on. Find out how to register to vote in our guide.
As a student, do I register to vote at my permanent address or my term-time address? – Alex, Newark
To be eligible to vote, you need to register at least 12 working days before a general election takes place. This means the deadline to register for the 2019 election is Tuesday 26 November.
While voting multiple times is a criminal offence, students can be registered to vote at both their home address and their university address. You must be registered in the area where you will be on the day of the vote, if you are planning to cast your ballot in person.
If you want to vote in an area where you are registered but won’t be living, you can arrange to vote by post. Alternatively, you can vote by proxy, which means asking somebody else to cast your vote for you.
The general election explained
What impact could the timing of the election have on the student vote? – Tom, York
An election on 12 December means that most students will be finishing term – and many will already have gone home for Christmas.
That means the student vote is less likely to be concentrated in constituencies with universities, and much of it could be dispersed around their home areas.
The most recent polling shows Labour ahead among student voters – and that could make a difference in university seats which saw a big swing to Labour in the 2017 general election, such as Canterbury and Portsmouth South.
I want to vote tactically, should I vote at home or in my university constituency? – Georgie Fernando, Leeds
Tactical voting is when someone backs a candidate they wouldn’t normally support, to stop someone else winning. This is perfectly legal and could happen in a constituency where two parties are in a tight race and candidates from other parties trail far behind.
Students are allowed to register to vote in both their home and university constituencies.
So if they were living in one of the places they were registered and wanted to vote in the other by post or by proxy, that would be allowed as long as they didn’t use their vote more than once. Voting multiple times is a criminal offence.
But there is also research from pollsters suggesting more students are planning to vote tactically.
Even if they have left university for the holidays, students can still use a postal vote at their university address. Or else, if their family live in a marginal seat, that could be where their vote is more influential.
Does registering to vote improve your credit score? – Charlie Evans, Shrewsbury
It can do. Registering to vote puts you on the electoral roll, which helps banks and other lenders verify your identity.
A higher credit score can make it easier to borrow money or enter into financial agreements such as a mortgage or mobile phone contract, and may mean you get a better repayment rate. This could be particularly useful to younger people who haven’t had a chance to build up much of a credit rating yet.
Not being on the electoral register may also slow down the lending process, as you could be asked for more documents to verify your identity.
It is also a legal requirement to register to vote if you are asked to do so and are eligible, although voting itself is not compulsory.
You will initially be placed on two versions of the register – the full electoral roll, and the open register. The latter can be accessed by firms who want to use your details for marketing purposes.
You can ask to be taken off the open register at any time without affecting your credit score, as lenders use the full electoral roll when running background checks.
If your MP becomes the Speaker of the house, do you get to vote? – Kirsten Price, Preston
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Labour MP for Chorley, in Lancashire, was recently elected by his fellow MPs to become the Speaker of the House of Commons.
His role is to keep order in Commons debates and call MPs to speak. As the role must be politically impartial, Sir Lindsay will be required to resign from the Labour Party. However, to be the Speaker he must remain an MP. During a general election, Speakers do not campaign on any political issues but simply stand as “the Speaker seeking re-election”.
By convention, major parties do not field a candidate to challenge the Speaker in their constituency during an election, although some independent candidates and parties may choose to stand.
As long as there is at least one other candidate, Chorley constituents will still be able to vote. If Sir Lindsay is the only candidate, no voting will take place.
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