WHEN: Wednesday 4 March 2015
WHERE: BRIGHTON, Sussex Student Union at 11:00, and Brighton Student Union from 13:00, both in Falmer BN1 9RH
WHEN: Thursday 5 March 2015
WHERE: SOUTHAMPTON from 11:00-14:00, The Polygon, Bedford Place SO15 2DS
With just 64 days until the 2015 general election, the campaign to register the country's growing numbers of missing voters is coming to Brighton and Hove, then onwards to Southampton.
Some 7.5 million people across the UK stand to lose out on the vote that they are entitled to - but fears are growing that huge numbers of south coast voters will be among those unable to take part in May.
To raise awareness of this risk, a registration roadshow is rolling along the coast to seek out and register would-be voters. The NoVoteNoVoice double decker - powered by a Daily Mirror, HOPE note Hate, Operation Black Vote, Operation Disabled Vote and Unite the union coalition - will target those groups where drop off rates are causing greatest concern - the young, those in rented housing and minority communities.
In Brighton and Hove, there is a crisis looming in voter participation as some 12,500 people have fallen off the roll, with numbers particularly high among the city's large student population. In one campus, only 377 would-be voters have registered in 2015, down from the 3,500 registered last year meaning a staggering nine in ten student voters could lose their vote. In one hall of residence only 12 out of a possible 800 voters are on the roll.
On Thursday 5 March the bus will head to Southampton, targeting the Bargate ward where the electoral roll has shrunk by 27 per cent with some 4,000 people dropping from the register, while in neighbouring Fareham over 7,000 possible voters have disappeared. In the Swaythling ward, some 1,648 voters - almost 17 per cent of those eligible to vote - are now missing.
According to the NVNV team, patchy promotion of the change away from household and onto 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. Where people are uncertain about their status they can check that too using the unique VoteBooster technology that allows voters to check if they are on the roll there and then.
Speaking ahead of the bus's journey across the capital, 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.
“Giving people the chance to vote is absolutely essential and I would urge everyone to support the No Vote, No Voice campaign and start talking to their friends, families and neighbours about the importance of voting.”
Ros Wynne-Jones of the Daily Mirror said: “Politicians have been too relaxed about the registration changes being understood, but as we cannot wait for Westminster to wake up, we're getting out there to talk to people about the value of voting.
“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. On the road with the NVNV tour we’ll be talking to disabled people about how they can vote and the access standards they can expect at polling stations.
“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
“We need to mobilise the voting power of younger people, get them on that roll so that politicians of all parties think about our countries’ future, not just getting over the finishing line in May.”
NVNV bus will stop at Brighton (4 March); Southampton (5 March); Bristol (6 March); Cardiff (7 March); Birmingham (8 March); Chester (9 March); Liverpool (10 March); Manchester (11 March); Calder Valley (12 March); Sheffield (13 March); Leeds (14 March) and Newcastle (15 March).
The media are very welcome to visit the bus and join the mass canvassing of voters.
If you wish to come along, or need further information, please contact:
• HOPE not Hate: firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8133 9560 or visit www.ourvoiceourhope.co.ukwww.ourvoiceourhope.co.uk
• Operation Disabled Vote: email@example.com
• Unite the union: press office 07976 832 861