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PROBLEM OF STUDENTS WITH NO RIGHT TO VOTE TACKLED

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As a London-wide voter registration drive gets underway to ensure more Londoners are registered to vote in time for...
As a London-wide voter registration drive gets underway to ensure more Londoners are registered to vote in time for the local authority elections in May 2006, Elections Minister Harriet Harman and Minister for Children, Young People and Families Beverley Hughes, are writing to London colleges and universities to enlist their help to tackle the problem of voter under-registration amongst London's students.

Ms Harman will tomorrow also visit Southwark College to sign students up to the electoral register.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs estimates that some 200,000 (or 25 per cent) under 24 year-olds in the capital are not on the electoral register - and cannot therefore vote - compared to just two per cent of over-55s nationally.

The under-registration rate for students in the UK is estimated to be

22 per cent - around 250,000 students nationally, of which some 35,000 live in London.

Londoners have until 13 March to register in time for the local authority elections.

Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman said:

'Students are politically aware, but many are not registered to vote.

And there is evidence that if people don't start voting early, they never vote.

'We are asking colleges and universities to help us make sure students can vote in the May elections.

'We are asking colleges to make voter registration forms available to students, invite local authority registration teams into colleges and hold a dedicated student voter registration event.

'We would welcome any ideas students have on how to address this problem of under-registration and look forward to hearing from and working with them to ensure that by the time of the May 2006 elections for London Borough Councillors, all London's students are able to go out and vote.'

Beverley Hughes said:

'The introduction of Citizenship in schools, and the Youth Green Paper Youth Matters show how seriously we take encouraging our young people to become involved in their communities and the wider political process. I welcome this registration campaign and urge young people to take up the chance to have a say on both local and national issues through the ballot box. Active citizens make a difference.'

The Get London Registered campaign involves the DCA, the London Mayor, the Electoral Commission, the Association of London Government, Operation Black Vote, the Commission for Racial Equality and other voluntary organisations.

As part of its drive to improve elections, the DCA last year published the Electoral Administration Bill, which will place new duties on electoral administrators (council officials who run

elections) to find 'hard-to-register' voters.

An estimated 3.5 million voters nationwide are not on the electoral register.

For more on elections use the following weblink:

http:www.dca.gov.uk/elections/index.htm

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