Every Vote Counts. What About Yours?

4 February 2015
Krissie Nicolson

It has been said that ‘bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote’ and there is only 93 days to Election Day and only 78 days to the voter registration deadline on the 20th of April! So are we ready to help shape the destiny of the country?

The 5th February is National Voter Registration Day but for us at The Forum every day is about increasing the power and visibility of our different communities to hold politicians accountable, and never before has your vote mattered so much.

During elections we are bombarded with negative stories about migrants as immigration has become the issue that some politicians use to score votes during their campaigns.  But beneath the hysteria the truth is that this dangerous rhetoric is pushing a racist, xenophobic agenda forwards while at the same time that the UK is dependent upon migrants for the country to function. Our Schools, the NHS, our transport system and economy all depend on the valuable contribution of migrants to the UK.

A new report from the Migrants Rights Network and the University of Manchester uncovers that migrant voters are almost equal in number to UKIP voters and with the upcoming elections too close to call, now is the time to shout about the electoral power of migrant communities particularly in the marginal constituencies.

HOW CAN YOU REGISTER?

Online registration: Registering to vote has never been easier, because you can now register online! Just follow this link on our website:

NoVoiceNoVotecroped

Registering by post: You can download the form in different languages by copying this this link into your browser:

http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/electoral-administrator/running-electoral-registration/public-engagement-resources

Or you can call your local registration office which will be located at your local council and ask them to send you a form.

The Forum began working on Voter Registration with our different communities just before the local and European elections in 2014 and already trainings and actions are well under way for this year’s contest. Last Thursday the talented leaders on The Forum’s Community Leadership Academy made pledges to encourage their communities to register in their thousands and on Monday Oriana, Yanik, Suleiman, Genjan, and Perry, courageous  6th Formers from Newman Catholic College in Brent Central inspired their peers to register to vote at their assembly.

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Building on the great work of community leaders during the Local and European Elections, The Forum is working with Migrant Organisations to run voter registration trainings and actions in key constituencies all the way to the voter registration deadline on the 20th April.  Watch this space for updates on meetings and training sessions and videos made by our community leaders in different languages.

Our work in the run up to the General Election is strictly nonpartisan, the power we build is for people not political parties. Our work is about developing community leaders to actively engage in democracy for the common good.

In recent months we have seen evidence that when people engage in elections on scale, it can have dramatic consequences. Just before the Scottish referendum the high level of voter registration and engagement secured greater devolution for Scotland. Now, in Greece, the newly elected Syriza vows to negotiate debt relief for the Greek people crippled by austerity.

It’s so easy to make your voice heard in this general election. The right to vote has been hard won, truly we stand on the shoulders of giants. In addition to taking responsibility for our future, it us our privilege to honour the work of the Civil Rights movement and the Suffragettes, to register to vote and to be heard.

WHO CAN REGISTER TO VOTE IN GENERAL ELECTION 2015?

Anyone who is 16 or older from a Commonwealth country or the Republic of Ireland and has residency in the UK, and those who were born anywhere overseas who have now become British citizens.

People who have recently arrived in the UK from EU countries cannot vote in the General Election unless they have acquired British citizenship, but EU citizens can vote in the Local Elections, including voting for the London Mayor next year!

This link will provide you with a complete list of qualifying countries:

 http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/177884/Who-can-register-to-vote.pdf

NOT SURE IF YOU ARE REGISTERED?

The voter registration system has changed from household to individual registration. From now on, people have to register as individuals, so some people may not be registered. If you are unsure if you are registered or not simply follow this link  http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/am_i_already_registered_to_vot.aspx and enter your address to find out the contact details of your local registration office. They will be able to tell you if you are currently registered or not.

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DON’T DELAY!

The deadline to register for the General Election in the 20th April, so make sure you get registered today!  The Forum is strictly nonpartisan, we will never tell you who to vote for, because that’s your decision to make. We just want to make sure you are using your voter power for you and your community.  If you are not sure about current political parties and their policies we suggest to look at Vote for Polices website

To get involved please get in touch with Krissie Nicolson: krissie@mrcf.org.uk

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