Today is National Voter Registration Day. It may not be as famous as Red Nose Day yet, but it’s just as important.
Because the fact is, without being registered to vote, your voice will not be heard.
Before the Great Reform Act in 1832, only white middle-class men over 21 could vote, and then only if they owned property or land.
Today, it is all men and women, anyone who is 18 or over on election day, and it no longer depends on your property portfolio.
Although things are much fairer now, it is still true that the younger you are, the less likely you are to vote. This is important because it is 16 to 24 year-olds who are least likely to be registered to vote, so it’s no surprise.
For the same reason, it is no surprise that it is this age group that is hardest hit by the Coalition Government’s cuts. The very fact that they are less likely to vote makes them a target.
That is why Bite the Ballot, a campaign organisation that is committed to persuading young people to register and vote, has launched National Voter Registration Day with the aim of registering 250,000 people on one day.
You can take part in reaching the quarter million registration goal by joining the campaign as an individual, a school, community group, a group of friends or even as a company.
All you have to do is visit the website http://bitetheballot.co.uk/nvrd/ or follow it on twitter #NVRD.
This is important: you can register to vote at 16 so that you are already on the register when you have your 18th birthday.
And it’s also important because we have the European elections coming up in May and then the local and General Election a year later.
For all those elections, the battle-lines have already been clearly marked out. Jobs, apprenticeships, further and higher education will be Labour’s priorities, and higher taxes for those who can afford them most to pay for them. A freeze on energy prices and a focus on fairness.
These are issues that affect young people more than their parents or grandparents and yet it is young people whose voices are least heard in the debate.
I hope that every school, college, youth club and every household with a 16 year-old living in it will use this opportunity to register to vote – you can easily apply for a postal vote – so that when the time comes, as many people as possible will have their say in Europe, in Westminster and in the Council Chamber on Saltergate.
Let’s make sure that we register as many 16 to 24 year-olds in North East Derbyshire as we possibly can on 5 February because, as they say at Bite the Ballot: “By just registering to vote, you are telling government that you are a vote worth winning, not one to be ignored.”
To register call North East Derbyshire District Council Voter registration helpline on 01246 217069/217068 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.