Gordon and fellow Fylde Coast MP Cat Smith have urged higher and further education bosses from across Lancashire to integrate voter registration within their student enrolment process.
Gordon, who is Labour’s Shadow Minister for Higher Education and Cat who the party’s Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement have written to all university vice-chancellors including at UCLAN and further education intuitions that do HE courses, such as Blackpool and the Fylde, about adopting this process. It follows a successful pilot at Sheffield University which saw 76% of students registered, compared to some universities which were as low as 13%.
The approach of integrating student enrolment with voter registration has been backed by Universities UK and also been successfully adopted by other universities including at Lancaster.
Gordon said: “The pilot at Sheffield where voter registration was integrated within student enrolment shows the big difference it can make to electoral registration numbers. We would like the same to be done at Blackpool and Fylde College, UCLAN, and other higher education providers across Lancashire and the North West.
“To build an inclusive democracy, it requires active participation from people of all ages and backgrounds. However students are one of the most mobile and transient groups and often the most at risk of falling off the electoral register. We can do something about this by registering them when they enrol on their college or university courses and this in turn will get them into the habit of voting.”
In their letter to the university vice-chancellors and college principals, Gordon and Cat added: “We realise that it is too late to make the necessary changes to enrolment systems for your 2017 intake, but hope that you will consider it for future years. However, for the current year it would be really helpful if you could liaise with your local Electoral Registration Officer and run a voter registration campaign at the start of the new academic year to sign up new students and prevent continuing students from falling of the electoral roll.”