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Your vote matters: Here's how to use it!

The UKs general election will take place on Thursday 12 December 2019. Voting is a fundamental right in our democracy and making your mark can make a HUGE difference to your future.  In any election, its really important that young people make their voices heard. According to the Electoral Commission, only one in three young people are registered to vote this year, and that means older people could end up having more impact in this election.  

For more info about how your vote can help the LGBT community, check out Stonewall’s #ComeOutVoting campaign. 

Am I allowed to vote?

You can vote in a UK general election if you are 18 years old or over. You also need to be a British or Irish citizen or a Commonwealth citizen resident in the UK. 

Who should I vote for?  

In the UK, we vote for Members of Parliament to represent our local constituencies (the areas we live in). There are 650 constituencies represented in Westminster, 59 of which are in Scotland. Not all parties choose to compete in all areas, so its important to know whos available to vote for in yours. You can do that right here.  

Ultimately, no one can tell you who to support. The beauty of a democracy is that you have the choice  its entirely up to you! Of course, its not always easy to decide, so heres a few tips:   

  • Chat to friends and family about their views 
  • Ask your teachers, tutors or lecturers to host debates in class  
  • Ask your youth worker to host a discussion in your next youth group 
  • Visit the websites for each party to see what they are about 
  • Most importantly, remember to read or watch the news as often as you can  

In the end, youll need to decide by 12 December so you can cast your vote one way or another.  

How do I vote?  

Voting is pretty straightforward, but there’s a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, you’ll need to vote in the area you’re registered in, unless you’re a student studying away from home, which means you can choose to vote in your home constituency or the one where you live in for uni.  

You can find your local polling station here. Most stations are at public buildings like churches or schools.  

If you wont be able to vote in person on 12 December, you can also choose to vote by post or by proxy.  

  • Postal vote: If youre registered, you can vote by post. Just fill in this form and send it to your local Electoral Registration Office by 26 November.  
  • Proxy vote: Youre allowed to have someone else vote on your behalf if you cant be there yourself, as long as youre both registered. Youll need to fill in a form by 5 December and there are different forms available for different reasons. You can learn more here.  

Of course, some people are still too young to vote, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t care about the election.  

What if I can’t vote?  

Even if youre too young to vote, or you arent eligible for some other reason, that doesnt mean you cant be involved. Young people have rights and responsibilities in our society and you should feel free to share your opinions on them! 

Most political parties in the UK accept members below the age of 18. Members can usually vote in important leadership races and canvas on behalf of the party.   

You could also take part in the Scottish Youth Parliament or your school, college or uni’s campus politics.  

Of course, you should also speak your mind on social media and discuss politics at home, in class or wherever! You should never be afraid to share your point of view, as long as youre willing to hear others too. And remember, stay safe and don’t feed the trolls! 

Like any election, this one is extremely important. Whatever the UK decides will have a huge impact on our lives in the years to come. If you can, you should play your part in helping make that decision.

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