Unless you’re a Politics student then it’s quite likely that you’ve given the upcoming General Election less thought than you perhaps should.
UEA is a particularly interesting place to be voting on the 7th May. In the 2010 general election, Norwich South (the constituency which UEA is in) was a true three-way marginal, but with the Green party making concerted efforts to cultivate the student vote it is possible that this year it may become one of only a few four-way marginals.
But what does this all mean for me, you may ask? A common reason given for not voting is that, ‘my vote won’t matter’, well you are lucky enough to be a student in an area where that is demonstrably not true. During the last election, the Lib Dems won by only 310 votes – which is fewer people than those who live in Norfolk Terrace.
In a recent article on their website, the NUS (National Union of Students) reported that there are almost 200 seats in which the student vote could swing the verdict, ‘In all but six of those seats, Census data shows full time students are a bigger proportion of the electorate than the swing required to change the 2010 outcome. Students hold the key to more than a quarter of seats – 81 Conservative, 76 Labour, 25 Liberal Democrats and nine others.’
You can register to vote both at home and where you go to uni (although you can only vote in one location). NUS’s Election Hub can help you compare the statistics for the two locations, to assist you in deciding where you should vote.
Earlier this month the Guardian named UEA as the third most influential university come polling day. This is largely due to its three-way marginal which means multiple parties are prioritising the Norwich South constituency as a place to gain a seat this May.
Even if politics isn’t your thing, I’m sure you can see why a large turnout of students on polling day is especially important at UEA. Last election only 62% of 18-25 year olds voted, compared to 89% of 65+, if students want to be taken seriously by the government and not have universities seen as the easy places to make budget cuts, then we need to be politically engaged over the next three months, and exercise our influence in the polling stations come the 7th of May.
Unless of course you’re planning on voting for UKIP, in which case stay home and rethink your life choices.