WHEN: Wednesday, 11 March 2015
• 15:00 - 16:30 at Manchester Student Union, Oxford Road, M13 9PR
• 17:00 - 19:00 at Academy 3, Manchester Student Union, with an address by Harry Leslie Smith
With alarming numbers across Manchester and Salford now missing from the electoral roll, the campaign to find and register these missing voters is coming to the city.
On March 11 - 57 days out from the 2015 general election – the #NoVoteNoVoice roadshow will roll into the city for a day’s voter registration, finishing with an address by 92 year old veteran campaigner Harry Leslie Smith to students and first time voters.
Some 7.5 million people across the UK stand to lose out on the vote that they are entitled to – but the huge numbers around Manchester and Salford who have fallen off the electoral register in recent months is causing particular concern:
• In Manchester Gorton, 4,283 people have dropped off the register.
• In Manchester Central 5,522 people have dropped off the register.
• In Manchester Withington 8,226 people – one in ten of the constituency’s adults - have dropped off the electoral roll.
• In Salford, there has been a staggering decline with 10,724 fewer voters now registered.
In a bid to find the missing voters, the #NoVoteNoVoice double decker - powered by a Daily Mirror, HOPE note hate, Operation Black Vote, Operation Disabled Vote and Unite the union coalition – is parking up in Manchester city centre to raise awareness of the looming voter participation crisis.
The day will be completed by an address on the importance of voting by 18-times general election voter Harry Leslie Smith, author of Harry’s Last Stand and campaigner for the NHS.
According to the NVNV team, patchy promotion of the change away from household to individual registration has caused voter numbers to plummet, which is why the eye-catching bus will be equipped with everything would-be voters need to get registered, including the unique VoteBooster technology that allows voters to check if they are on the roll there and then.
Speaking ahead of the bus' journey, Nick Lowles of HOPE not hate said: “Elections are the life-blood of any democracy so it is a scandal that so many people cannot vote. The government's own figures show that 8.5 million people - 17.7 per cent of all eligible voters - are not registered to vote. And what is worse is that it is those groups who most need a voice - the young, those on lower incomes and minority communities - who are worst affected.”
Ros Wynne-Jones of the Daily Mirror said: “Simply registering sends a message to politicians. It says, if you want to win my vote then you must talk to me and listen to me. People may feel hacked off with political life in this country but our message is ‘don’t sit this out - your vote is your power, use it’.”
Ellen Clifford for Operation Disabled Vote said: “Disabled people remain one of the most marginalised and excluded groups in society and every day barriers to participation include exercising our democratic right to vote. If disabled people want politicians to prioritise the issues that matter most to us then we need to make disabled voter power really count.”
Anthony Curley national coordinator of Unite young members added: “The saying goes that ‘if you vote you get stuff, if you don't you get stuffed’. There’s a worrying trend of young people not engaging with the political process, too many aren’t registering to vote – I fear that may become the habit of a lifetime.”
The #NVNV bus will stop at Manchester (11 March); Leeds (14 March) and Newcastle (15 March).
The media are very welcome to visit the bus and join the mass canvassing of voters, or attend the event with Harry Leslie Smith. If you wish to come along, or need further information, please contact:
HOPE not hate: 020 8133 9560
Operation Disabled Vote: firstname.lastname@example.org
Unite the union: press office 07976 832 861