When SSCC met the Electoral Commission…
Today Greg and I headed to the Electoral Commission to meet Rosemary Davenport, Senior Media Relations and Public Affairs Officer, and Warren Seddon, Head of Media and Public Affairs.
The Electoral Commission helps to sign up as many voters as possible, and therefore keeping our country as well-represented as possible. Groups that are under-represented in terms of registration include young people, the elderly and those who have moved house, but not changed their address on the electoral roll. Obviously this is a perfect organisation for Smart School Councils Community to get involved with, as we’re all about giving students a voice in school, and ensuring they keep making it heard in later life.
One area we discussed is that of “attainers” these are 16 and 17 year olds, who can register to vote in preparation for when they turn 18. Since the recent change in the electoral system, by which each person is now responsible for signing themselves up, rather that the “head of the house” signing up a house hold, it is up to individuals to get signed up, and not lose out on their opportunity to vote and be represented. You can do this here.
We thought this was a positive change, as it reflects the independence one is expected to have as a voter. To help this, we discussed having an electoral roll sign-up competition in schools where they could get as many of their students signed up to the electoral roll as possible. Young people are becoming more and more politically aware, and appreciate their right to vote, as shown clearly in the Scottish referendum, so we think it would be a positive thing for schools to encourage as many of their students as possible to get on the electoral roll.
The demographic of Smart School Councils Community sits at the younger end of the spectrum, but we have been considering why information about signing up should be reserved for those nearly at voting age. Primary school children could perhaps also benefit from learning about our electoral system, perhaps even by signing up to the electoral roll to vote in their school council elections, meaning that when their generation hits voting age, they can take advantage of their vote, and keep making their voices heard as they have done in their School Councils.
Overall, I would consider today’s meeting hugely positive, it is fantastic that organisations like the Electoral Commission care about children and young people having a voice, and we hope to develop these ideas and spread the message of the Electoral Commission to young people in the future!