Polls predict high student turnout in General Election
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78% of students are registered to vote, suggesting that student turnout at the polls this May will be higher than previously expected. The findings, from YouthSight, suggest that initial concerns about possible low numbers of students registering to vote in the General Election, due to the introduction of the new Individual Voter System, are ill-founded. Youth opinion panel YouthSight found, in their poll of 1,000 full-time UK undergraduates, that the 22% of students who claimed that they weren’t registered to vote were either unsure of their registration status or were knowingly not registered. YouthSight found that around 40% of students will vote in their university towns, which will largely impact areas with large student populations. Sheffield, for example, is estimated to have more than 10,000 student voters out of its approximate 33,000 full-time undergraduates (attending the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University), who will choose to vote there rather than in their home-towns. Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam constituency, a marginal seat, is home to many of the city’s students, meaning that the student vote will be a highly important one there. Other marginal seats across the country, in areas with high student populations, include North Warwickshire (Warwick University), Norwich South (University of East Anglia) and Cardiff North (Cardiff University and Cardiff Met). 66% of students say that they are highly likely to turn out to vote in the General Election this May, with only 9% highly unlikely to do so. Their research also found that the main reasons given by the 11% of students not registered to vote and with no intention of registering before May’s General Election were ‘not being political’, ‘not knowing who to vote for’ and ‘not knowing enough about politics.’ This high number of registered students shows there to be a positive amount of student political engagement currently, which could partly be attributed to the Electoral Commission and it’s well-promoted National Voter Registration Day (February 5th), as well as campaigns conducted by the National Union of Students (NUS).
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