Why Should You Vote in the General Election?

Emily Crudden McIlhatton
Emily Crudden McIlhatton
June 10, 2024
Why Should You Vote in the General Election?

The UK General Election has been called for Thursday 4th July 2024, and with it comes the first opportunity for thousands of young people across the UK to make their voice heard and use their vote. Whether you are excited to vote for the first time or you are apathetic about the idea, we would like to help give you clear information to help with your decision. Many young people have disengaged from politics and it could be argued that politics has disengaged from young people! However, the opportunity to make your voice heard is an immensely important civic duty and privilege tand can help to build a more inclusive and democratic society. Some reasons why it is important to vote:  

Your vote always matters! No matter what you’re told- your vote always matters! Even in so-called ‘safe’ constituencies, your vote is an important indicator of the support for the candidate you vote for.  This is one of the most interesting Westminster elections for Northern Ireland in a long time, with the outcome of quite a few seats in the balance.  Only those who vote can make a difference to the outcome.

Politicians are less likely to listen to you if you don’t vote! Often politicians will only really listen to the groups who vote. Voter turnout is consistently low among young people, and consistently high among over 65s.  Politicians will prioritise the interests of those who vote. Politicians are more likely to listen to young people when they feel accountable to them!

Don’t let others decide who represents you! When you don’t use your vote, you have no say in who is chosen to represent you. If you aren’t happy with your current MP, then this is your chance to change who it is.  If you are happy, they will need your vote to stay in their role.  The only way to express your opinions and needs is by using your vote, otherwise, you’re letting others choose who represents you.

You have the right that many others are still fighting for! The right to vote was not always as accessible as it is today, and there are still people around the world who do not yet have the opportunity to vote, or whose choices are very limited and controlled. Historically, the suffragettes fought and risked their lives for the woman’s right to vote and today, countless campaigners are working to promote democracy and equal suffrage across the globe. Don’t let your vote go to waste while others struggle to gain theirs.

Promote democracy for a fairer society for all! The last UK General Election in 2019 saw a voter turnout of 67.3%. Almost one third of UK population had no say in who would represent them over the next five years; the fewer people who vote, the less democratic our society becomes!  

Not impressed by any of the options? You can still be counted even if you don’t want to vote for any of the candidates.  If you spoil your vote (by writing on it for example) or leave your ballot blank this shows the government that although you wish to engage with politics, the candidates running for election do not adequately reflect your priorities as a citizen.  

Remember, in order to vote and have your voice heard, you must be registered by 18th June 2024! Register Today if you haven't already!  

Not going to be home on election day? Don’t worry! If you’re not here on 4th July to vote you can apply for a postal or proxy vote here. You can apply for a temporary or permanent postal or proxy vote, but this must be received by the Executive Office by 14th June 2024. If eligible for postal vote, your ballot paper is posted to you in advance of the election for you to complete and post back. If eligible for proxy vote, you may nominate someone you trust to vote on your behalf. You must be registered to apply for a postal or proxy vote.

Voting for the First Time? Let Us Show You How!

The UK General Election follows a First Past the Post (FPTP)voting system. This means that in each of the 650 constituencies in the UK, one candidate from each political party may run. Whichever candidate receives the highest number of votes in a single constituency wins the MP seat. When it comes to using your vote, the ballot paper will look a little like this:

Example of Ballot Paper for FPTP

Voting is relatively simple in a FPTP system, you just place an X next to the candidate of your choice. You may only choose one candidate to vote for. Happy first time voting!

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