Why students need to think now about registering to vote

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Image caption,
Many students will have finished their exams by polling day

The likely date of the general election means many students will need to think about the means by which they vote.

Many will have finished exams by polling day on 8 June and will not be at their term-time address.

Those registered to vote at their term address are advised to think about their options.

These include registering at a new address, voting by proxy and postal voting.

Other students may currently be unsure of where they will be living on polling day.

The best advice to students is to check whether they will be registered to vote at their term-time address or another one and then consider what to do.

The Electoral Commission says: "Students need to think about where they will be resident at the registration deadline and ensure they are registered to vote.

"Students need to check where they will be registered at the registration deadline to ensure they are registered to vote at the correct address. They will also need to consider where they will actually be on 8 June so that they can cast their vote.

"If students are not physically able to go to their allotted polling station, they could arrange for a postal vote or appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf - provided they do this by the postal/proxy vote deadline."

The registration deadline has not been announced yet, but is likely to be around 22 May.

Unlike Scottish-only elections, including May's council elections, 16 and 17-years-olds will not be able to vote.

Students who live away from home face various options when it comes to registering to vote.

Some will be registered to vote at their term-time address while others may prefer to be registered at their permanent home.

Indeed, some may be on the voters' roll twice - once for each address. This is perfectly legal - but anyone who is registered in more than one place needs to be aware that it is against the law to vote twice in a general election.

By early June, many students will have finished their exams and may have returned home. Others who live in university accommodation may have found somewhere else to stay for the summer.

Image caption,
Some students are registered at two addresses - but this doesn't mean they can vote twice

So, what is the advice for students who may not know just now where they will be on polling day?

The challenge is similar to the one on the day of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, which happened during Freshers' Week at some universities.

Then, some students returned home especially to vote in the referendum or secured proxy or postal votes.

Others who were able to sort out their term-time accommodation well in advance were able to register at that address in time.

For the general election, students will face similar choices.

If a student knows in good time where they will be staying on 8 June, they still have time to get on the voters' roll at that address.

The alternative - which could be particularly helpful for anyone unsure of where they will be living on polling day - is to register at their permanent address then get a postal vote or arrange a proxy.

More details of the various options including the deadline for registration, will be given in the coming weeks by the Electoral Commission.

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