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Calling all Young People: #TakePower and Register to Vote, Urge Hogan Lovells and Bite the Ballot

02 February 2016

This week (1-7 February 2016) marks the third annual National Voter Registration Drive (NVRD) in the UK: a week of social action, calling on people to register to vote and begin to drive the political agenda by becoming active changemakers. With over 100 national and local elections taking place in May - and an increasingly likely EU referendum - NVRD will raise awareness about the benefits of being registered, and inspire people and communities to #TakePower and play a collective role in democratic decision-making.

The link between the rule of law and the exercising of democratic rights is clear and Hogan Lovells has been working with NVRD organiser Bite the Ballot – a party-neutral youth movement that works to engage young people in the political process – to bring together the power of politics and law for the purpose of getting young people to take interest in politics and voting.

Commenting, Yasmin Waljee, International Pro Bono Director at Hogan Lovells, said:
"It's a vicious cycle for young people – issues relating to and concerning young people are not being prioritised by politicians but equally not enough young people are voting and politicians listen to voters. The recent move to Individual Voter Registration driven by Government, is estimated to have resulted in nearly a million people falling off the electoral register, the majority of whom are young people.

"Fortunately, there are organisations working hard to solve this problem, such as our Pro Bono client Bite the Ballot. Thanks to our combined efforts young people are starting to get their act together and register to vote.  Now politicians need to give them something to vote for."

Bite the Ballot identified the need for improved processes in place to register young people (aged 16- 24) to vote in England. Having also identified Northern Ireland as an example of best practice, where the highly successful 'Schools Initiative' has redressed the imbalance brought by Individual Voter Registration, Hogan Lovells engaged with a number of key stakeholders on Bite the Ballot's behalf, including:

  • Meeting with the Electoral Commission and Cabinet Office ministers to discuss the best practices developed in Northern Ireland
  • Drafting for an Early Day Motion for MPs to show support for the movement
  • Drafting and lobbying for a Private Member's Bill in the House of Lords to reform the way electoral registration officers approach the registration of young people
  • Preparing Bite The Ballot representatives for a Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee inquiry
  • Introducing Bite the Ballot to partner schools within Islington and facilitating voter registration workshops.

Michael Sani, Bite the Ballot Chief Exec, said:

With as many as 10 million people missing from the register, we’re excluding communities and young citizens from democracy. NVRD is a collaboration of determined individuals, using voter registration as one step in creating a society where every citizen is inspired and empowered to become a changemaker.”

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