Celebrating voter power

Safya Khan-Ruf - 04 05 18

Campaigners engaged around 3,000 people through the HOPE not hate Democracy Week voter registration drive. Nearly 10,000 households were also engaged with voter turnout cards that included the candidates’ pledges on key issues.

Voter awareness around local elections has historically been low compared to other elections. The last local elections, in May 2014, saw the lowest turnout in recent history, with just 39% of people voting across London, compared with 62% in 2010.

As a result, HOPE not hate teamed up with Bite The Ballot and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to push students to register and turn up with the aid of ice cream.

Campaigners worked with communities across London to ensure under-represented groups were aware about the power of their vote. This included students, youth, ethnic minorities, migrants and working class citizens.

Many people engaging with the campaigners expressed their surprise they were allowed to vote. The 2018 London elections offered Commonwealth citizens as well as EU nationals a chance to vote, alongside British citizens.

Elisabeth Pop, HOPE not hate’s lead on voter registration, says there were several issues to tackle during the campaign and democratic engagement was hard work.

“From the lack of central resources which had a negative impact on awareness, to the Easter break and its impact on the voter registration deadline, to this potentially being the last election EU nationals could vote in, to the impact of photo voter ID in Bromley, making sure democracy and London worked for everyone was much needed and important work,” she says.

The local elections will be the last time EU national can vote in the UK until their citizenship rights post-Brexit have been determined.

Some local authorities have also begun to introduce photo voter ID requirements at the ballot box – likely to have a negative impact on certain communities that are less likely to possess such ID.

“Moving forward, we need to safeguard and modernise our democracy by increasing democratic engagement and civic participation instead of putting up further barriers and disenfranchising those most in need of a voice and a vote. HOPE not hate will be there to ensure this pillar of integration and a cohesive society gets the attention and reforms it needs,” says Pop.


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