Joe Inwood, President of the Oxford SU, has joined various student groups and societies in urging students to register to vote in the EU Elections before the deadline comes into force at midnight tonight.
Joe Inwood, President of the Oxford SU, told The Oxford Student: “It is vital that students register to vote in all elections. The voices of students are often ignored by politicians. We are urging all students to register before the deadline today and ensure they exercise their democratic rights.”
The Oxford University Liberal Democrats, stated in a social media post: “The Liberal Democrat’s are the only option in South East England if you want to Stop Brexit at the upcoming Euro Elections – deadline to #PledgeToReg is TODAY! Get registering so you can vote in the EU elections on May 23rd.”
Similarly, Oxford University Labour Club stated: “Everyone who hasn’t registered to vote already in Oxford, please do so – it’s the last day you can!” adding, “Nigel Farage himself is standing in the South East, so let’s keep him out of the European Parliament! ”
This comes in the wake of the ‘pledge to reg’ initiative, led by the group Vote For Your Future. The initiative called on students to register to vote and submit a photograph of their polling card and college, with the college which registers the most students to receive £250 for their JCR.
The EU elections come after the government agreed an extension to its European membership until 31 October. While the UK remains part of the EU, it is required to elect members of European parliament. The government maintains that participating in EU elections can still be avoided if Parliament agrees to pass May’s thrice defeated Withdrawal Agreement.
The election will take place on 23 May with polling stations in Oxford open from 7am to 10pm. Registered electors will receive a polling card in the post which will inform them of their polling station.
Registered UK nationals do not need to register again. Students can register both at their home address and at their university, but may only vote at one of these. Citizens from European Union countries other than the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Malta and Cyprus have been sent a form which must be returned by 7 May in order to vote in the UK rather than their home country at the European Election.
Oxford is part of the South East Region which elects 10 members through a system of proportional representation. In the 2014 elections, the party which received the highest number of votes in South East England was UKIP, which received four MEPs including Nigel Farage. This was followed by the Conservatives who sent 3 MEPs, then Labour, Greens and the Lib Dems who each sent one.
Turnout to EU elections remains low relative to national elections, at 36% in 2014. Youth turnout has been particularly low, with just 28% of 18-24 year olds turning up to vote across Europe in 2014.
If you are unable to vote at a polling station on the day you can apply for a postal or proxy vote. A postal vote allows residents to post their vote to the Council before the election while a proxy vote nominates another person to vote on the elector’s behalf at their polling station. The deadlines to apply for a postal and proxy votes are 5pm on 8 May and 5pm on 15 May respectively.
The results of the European Parliamentary Election will be announced on 26 May.
You can register to vote here.
Image Credit: mounsey