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Burton and South Derbyshire students learn about the importance of voting

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: February 05, 2014

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STUDENTS at Burton and South Derbyshire College have been getting political as part of the first UK National Voter Registration Day.

It is designed to make young people aware of how voting in elections can affect them now as well as shaping their future.

The initiative organised by Bite the Ballot also aims to change the way young people view politics and the government, with many saying they are disinterested in what happens in Parliament.

Although the voting age in the UK is still 18, people as young as 16 are currently allowed to register to vote in future elections.

In the 2010 general election, only 44 per cent of 18-24 year olds voted compared to 76 per cent of over 65s.

President of the students’ union Anique Rehman, 20, told the Mail: “Students often see cuts to funding. It’s important that they realise voting on these matters can affect this.

“Supporting National Voter Registration Day is the first step but it will hopefully make them aware.”

A table was set up inside the main reception of the college and members of the students’ union handed out forms and gave fellow students advice on why it is important they take an interest in voting.

Tutorials were also given to students regarding the importance of government, the process for electing Members of Parliament for each constituency, the various roles in the Government and the impact of politics on everyday life.

17-year-old Felicia Vundla from South Derbyshire said: “Nick Clegg said he wasn’t going to raise tuition fees but then the coalition went against that. It makes us not want to trust the government. By voting, we can change that.”

Jack Waldron who is also 17 and from Ashbourne said: ““The manifesto’s that the parties give out at the next election are going to shape our future. By registering to vote it gives us a choice of which one we would prefer.”

The students’ union team also held a ‘Show Me the Money’ challenge’ which was designed to get students talking about how they would spend the Government’s money if they were given the chance.

Vice-President Chloe Sartaine-Berry, 17 from Swadlincote said: “I think it’s important because we’re the age group that don’t have a chance to vote but are affected the most.

“By doing this it enables young people to be made aware of how important voting is.

“I suggest they take time to read up on how voting works and also consider how it affects their future.”

The college will also be holding a democracy day in April and have invited Burton MP Andrew Griffiths and South Derbyshire MP Heather Wheeler to speak to young people about the importance of voting.

Burton and South Derbyshire College Vice-Principal John Beaty said: “Voting gives young people the opportunity to have their say not only on local services but also how the country is run.

“Getting them to register at 16 and 17 prepares them for adult life.”

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