In advance of this year’s general election, the Coalition government introduced Individual Electoral Registration (IER). This abolished the previous system in which households were registered together and Cambridge colleges automatically registered all their students to vote. Now everyone who has moved since May 2014 must register themselves individually, although this has not been widely publicised.
The result is that thousands of potential voters in Cambridge are not yet registered to vote and, unless they do so before 20 April, they will be denied the chance of voting in what is likely to be a very close run general election. The problem is particularly striking amongst first year undergraduates and newly arrived graduate students. Those in their second and third years were all registered automatically by their colleges when they arrived in Cambridge but only about a third of first years are currently registered.
Students are entitled to vote in local elections both at home and in Cambridge. In the general election, they can choose whether to vote in Cambridge or at home but they cannot vote in both.
Only British citizens, Commonwealth citizens and citizens of the Republic of Ireland may vote in the general election. In local elections, British, Commonwealth and Irish citizens plus European Union citizens are entitled to vote.
If you are not yet registered to vote, you can easily do so on line at gov.uk/register-to-vote. You will need your National Insurance number to register.