Lead officer: Zamzam Ibrahim, Vice President Society and Citizenship 2018/19 and National President 2019/20
NUS has always been an advocate of people using their right to vote and has therefore ran annual voter registration campaigns alongside its member students’ unions. During previous years NUS has sourced funding to assist with such campaigns or partnered with bodies such as the Electoral Commission. In 2019 there was a great deal of speculation about a possible general election but prior to this, local elections were also due to take place.
In January 2019 NUS partnered with the Electoral Commission, creating bespoke Got 5? campaign materials for use by NUS nations and NUS members to encourage students and young people to register to vote. The 2018/19 officers supported the campaign by recording videos for sharing on social media, websites and in newsletters, with key messages targeting different student groups. They explained why they were registered to vote and why they would be using their vote when the opportunity came.
In the run up to the local elections in May, officers recorded further videos, encouraging people to use their vote, explaining where to find out further information and advising those in locations running ID pilots what they needed to do. The success of the partnership with the Electoral Commission resulted in an agreement to continue the relationship if a general election took place.
In September 2019 NUS took advantage of freshers and welcome weeks to launch a nationwide voter registration campaign, partnering with the Electoral Commission in preparation for a possible general election.
On social media and on-campus, our officers were out in force with the #RegisterToVote message, while an NUS register to vote toolkit was produced to support students’ unions with their on-campus efforts.
In November 2019 NUS presidents launched our #WhenStudentsLead general election manifesto and campaigned across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales highlighting students’ demands and encouraging students to register and get out the vote. This was especially crucial in light of the UK government’s efforts to discourage the student vote.
NUS officers fronted a social media video campaign and launched VoteSavvy, a digital tool to help students identify the parties whose manifestos most closely matched their values, so they could decide who to vote for in the general election. We also campaigned against the government’s mandatory Voter ID proposal.
A record 2.6 million young people registered to vote in the 2019 general election, up 85% on 2017
684,000 students used our VoteSavvy tool in the week prior to the election
There was a 43% student awareness of the campaign recorded in the January 2020 NUS Student’ Survey
The UK Government confirmed it would reintroduce bursaries for student nurses, a NUS general election manifesto ask, and part of our Plan For Action 2019/20
There was confirmation that the student vote is growing in importance
The relationship with the Electoral Commission was cemented with a 20% voter registration conversion rate for leads generated by NUS. 90% of the leads NUS generated were new i.e. people who had not registered to vote before.
We will continue to run our annual voter registration campaign, encouraging students to register to vote, and our get out the vote campaigns encouraging students to take part in local elections, devolved-government elections, and general elections.
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