Register to vote?

200,000 people sign up to vote in just 72 hours

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Register to vote for the next general election?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

There will be a general election sooner than later - and people are registering to vote in anticipation of a snap poll.

Hundreds of thousands of people applied to vote in just three days, according to government figures.

However, university students could be left out after failing to register at their new homes.

The Claim

Nearly 200,000 people have applied to vote in just 72 hours in anticipation of a general election.

According to official government figures, more than half of these newly-registered voters are under-35. This age group were 10 times more likely to register than over-65s in that period.

The new sign-ups peaked at 68,400 on Wednesday - with 80 per cent of registrations taking place digitally.

In August, the daily average of applications stood at 21,598.

Sym Roe, from the non-profit organisation Democracy Club, describes the statistics as "quite unusual".

He told the BBC: "Compared to other years this is several times bigger than what we would expect for early September.

"It's very unusual to see something like this before an election has even been announced, but it's almost certainly because of all the talk there has been around one."

The Counterclaim

However, there is one reason why Johnson wants to call an early election: to hold an election "before swaths of students register to vote".

Katie Perrior, former director of communications at No 10 under Theresa May, says that as thousands of students start university life, registering to vote at their new home "may not be high on their priority list". And this suits the Tories just fine.

In an article for Politico, she explains: "The longer a delay to any election goes on, the more students will register to vote in their campus constituencies.

"The Tories traditionally do badly with younger voters who are also overwhelmingly anti-Brexit.

"What's more, this year's university intake contains a record number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds - not natural Conservative supporters."

Only 28 per cent of the student population will consider voting Tory - and only 16 per cent actually do so.

The Facts

In 2017, the turnout for the snap election was 68.8 per cent - up from 66.3 per cent in 2015, and the highest general election turnout since 1997. Government figures show that the total registered electorate was 46.8 million people, up from 46.4 million in 2015.

To be eligible to vote in the next general election, you need to be over 18 on the day of the vote - and registered. All you need to register is your National Insurance number, or your passport if you are a British citizen living abroad.

You need to be a British, Irish or qualifying Commonwealth citizen and a resident at a British address. If you are a British citizen living abroad, you will need to have been registered to vote in the UK in the past 15 years.

The quickest way to register to vote is online. The process usually takes just five minutes, and it can be done on www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.

Alternatively, you can register to vote by post by printing off a form and sending it to your local Electoral Registration Office. You can also ask this office to send the form on your behalf.

We do not know when the deadline for registration will be - as a general election has not been called yet. However, it is likely to be at least two weeks before the day of the vote.

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