Register to vote now – make sure your voice is heard!

Are you registered to vote?

  • It’s quick, easy and can be done online
  • Students can and should register at home and at university
  • Registering is a legal requirement – you could be fined if you don’t

Registering to vote is a fundamental part of being a citizen. Without registering, you can’t vote in elections or referendums that happen in this country.

Voting is the most powerful thing you can do – the ability to change the people in power is one that millions of people across the world don’t have.

We often feel that the government and Council don’t listen to us – that they don’t care about students. The best way to change this is to start registering – and start voting.

If you don’t register, you can’t vote, so make sure you don’t miss out.

Do I have to register to vote?

The law requires you to register to vote at least one address in the United Kingdom. If you’re a student who lives in one place during term time and another during holidays, you can register in both places at once (see “Can I vote in more than one place?” below).

We strongly encourage students to register in both places. One of our biggest problems is that local Councillors and MPs sometimes don’t take student needs seriously, because if we don’t register, we can’t vote against them when they make bad decisions.

Councillors and MPs can sometimes not realise just how many students live in their areas, because they work off the electoral registration lists. Therefore, it’s really important that as many of us register as possible, so they have to notice us, and have to take us seriously.

If you’re not registered in at least one place, you could be fined £80 by the Council. Registration literally takes a few minutes, and you can do it online now at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

What do I have to do to register?

You should have got a letter in the post from the Council inviting you to register. You can either fill in the form attached to this letter, or you can go online and do it at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. If you have your National Insurance number, you can get straight onto the register.

You can find your NI number on any payslips you might have, or you should have received it on a letter from the government when you turned 16.

If you don’t have an NI number or can’t find yours, as long as you’re registered your current address with the University, you can still register online. When it asks you to enter your NI number, click “I don’t know my National Insurance number”, followed by “I can’t provide my National Insurance number”. In the box below, write “Student at the University of Southampton”. If there any issues, the Council will get in touch with you.

To find out your NI number, you can call HM Revenue and Customs and they’ll help you out - 0300 200 3502.

I’m already registered/I voted in the last election

Your voter registration doesn’t move house with you – every time you move house, you need to register again. If you don’t register, you’ll miss out and you won’t be able to vote in the next election.

Can I vote in more than one place?

If you’re from the UK and you’re living away from home whilst you’re at University, the law assumes that you split your time between the two addresses equally. This means you can sometimes have two votes – one at home and one at University. The basic rule is that you can only vote once in each election to a particular body.

Elections you can vote more than once in:

  • District Council elections (might be called a Borough or City Council)
  • County Council elections
  • Police and Crime Commissioner elections

Elections you can only vote once in:

  • The General Election, for Members of Parliament for the House of Commons. The next General Election is likely to be in 2020.
  • European Parliament elections
  • Referendums (such as the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, which will be happening before the end of 2017)

Depending on where you live, you might also be able to vote in elections for your Parish/Town Council, local mayor, the London Assembly, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Irish Assembly or the Scottish Parliament.

If you want to vote in another place to the one you’ll be living in on the day of the election, you can apply for a postal ballot, where you send your ballot paper in by post and cast your vote that way instead. This service is free and you don’t need to give a reason as to why you would prefer a postal ballot. You can vote in person or post in either place – there’s no restrictions. You can find the form for this here

If you’re not from the UK, your registration to vote here is separate from any registration to vote you might have in your home country, or at your country’s embassy in the United Kingdom.

I’m an international student, can I/should I register?

Voting in the UK isn’t just restricted to British citizens. The following people can vote:

  • British, Republic of Ireland or qualifying Commonwealth citizens

    Qualifying Commonwealth citizens are those who have leave to enter or remain in the UK, or do not require such leave. This includes students studying here on a University course.
  • Citizens of European Union countries living in the UK

    This includes students studying here on a University course.
  • Citizens of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or a British Overseas Territory living in the UK

    This includes students studying here on a University course.

You can find a full list of eligible countries here

If you can register, you need to. You may need to provide proof of your identity and leave to remain in the United Kingdom, for example by sending in copies of your passport and/or visa.

Which elections can I vote in?

Not everyone can vote in every election. The following table shows some of the elections that are held in the UK, and who can vote in each.

  British citizens Republic of Ireland citizens, qualifying Commonwealth citizens, citizens of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or a British Overseas Territory, living in the UK Citizens of European Union countries, living in the UK
District Council (might be called a Borough or City Council) Yes Yes Yes
County Council Yes Yes Yes
Police and Crime Commissioner Yes YesYes
European Parliament Yes Yes Yes
General Elections, for Members of Parliament for the House of Commons Yes Yes No
Referendums Yes Yes Depends on the referendum. For the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, EU citizens will not be able to vote.

If your home address is in the United Kingdom, you might also be able to vote in elections for your Parish or Town Council, local mayor, the London Assembly, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Irish Assembly or the Scottish Parliament.