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The Election Explained: How to make your vote count

June 6, 2024

As we gear up for the General Election, Edge Hill’s politics team - both staff and students – will be looking ahead to what is coming and highlighting key aspects of the contest. Today History and Politics student Hannah Shaikh explains the hows and whys of voting.

As the General Election approaches, it’s high time that voters get well informed on the who, what, where, when, and why of the voting process. Although it was impossible to miss the country’s soggiest announcement, it must be known that the devil is in the detail. And unfortunately for everyone, it isn’t as simple as just turning up on the day. Second year History and Politics student, Hannah Shaikh explains.

To vote on the 4 July, voters must be registered to vote at their address by 11:59pm on the 18 June. This can easily be done at either The Electoral Commission or directly through the GOV.UK website.

Many of us will vote on polling day by going to our polling station. Crucially though, this is not the only way to vote. Constituents also have the choice to vote by post or to vote by proxy; (when somebody else votes on their behalf) – these options also have deadlines.

Voters must be registered to vote by post by 5pm on 19 June, whereas the deadline to vote by proxy is 26 June. Both options can be found on the GOV.UK website too.

Why vote?

But why vote at all? What are the advantages? Rewind back to 2016, and everyone remembers how they, or how they would have, voted.

The EU referendum resulted in a 52%-48% split, one of the closest votes in UK history. However, in reality, only 72 per cent of potential voters put a cross in a box that day.

For a true and fair result, every single vote is needed; otherwise, the democratic value is lost. Voting is a right for a reason. This coming General Election is not just the chance to have a say on who will be the next government but who becomes each local MP too. Therefore, every part of life is affected, big or small, national or regional. With such narrow margins shown in events such as Brexit, it has never been clearer that every vote counts.

It’s important to remember that having the right to vote didn’t always apply to everyone. Take Susan B. Anthony for instance, a leader of the women’s suffrage movement in the US. She famously said: “Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.” Edge Hill was founded as an institution which broke traditional barriers for women and promoted women’s rights. Our University colours and graduation gowns still proudly display the colours of the suffrage movement.

Edge Hill's Wonder Women project in 2018, celebrating 100 years of women's suffrage
Edge Hill’s Wonder Women project in 2018, celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage

So, look around, how much of modern-day life would still be here if no one voted? Would the NHS be there? Would the LGBT+ community ever have achieved equal rights? Would the country be at war?

When constituents do register to vote, a poll card will be delivered to their address. This poll card will include the location of the local polling station, the hours in which voting will take place and a reminder of the date of the election. Voters can also find this information at; For Voters | Democracy Club, as well as information on their local candidates. 

Candidate nominations close on  7 June, which means from then on the lists will be as up to date as they can be.

Most importantly though, the most recent and still relatively unknown change to the voting process has been the introduction of requiring photo ID to vote.

A list of accepted forms of photo ID is at both: Photo ID you’ll need – GOV.UK and Accepted forms of photo ID | Electoral Commission. Information on how to get a valid photo ID if you don’t have any is also included. For students, it’s important to note that student ID is not a valid form of voter ID.

It’s essential that voters remember to bring their ID with them as not only will they miss out on voting, but they will also be compared to Boris Johnson for making the same mistake.

Ultimately, there are no downsides to voting, even if your preferred candidate is not elected. An opinion was still expressed, and an effort still made. Compared to not voting at all, which renders the individual opinionless, at least the opportunity was not wasted to have a say in what the future brings.

Hannah Shaikh is a second year History and Politics student at Edge Hill University, currently working on a project to increase voter registration and encourage people to cast their vote.

Read: The Election Explained: The First TV Debate – Reaction

Read: The Election Explained: The Phoney War Phase

Find out more about studying Politics at Edge Hill:

June 6, 2024


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