I can’t agree with Mike Simpson (Letters, July 26) who argues that students should vote at home not in their place of study, leaving democracy to “local” residents.
Students may move from place to place, but their interests should be represented because they are about 10 per cent of the Sheffield population. Most would consider Sheffield their home rather than where their parents live. Many stay on after studying to work in our friendly and welcoming city. Democracy is for everyone, regardless of how temporary their habitation might be.
The average age of British councillors is now over 60, but Sheffield is slowly becoming more representative of the population. I sought to represent young people in the Crookes and Crosspool ward as a 19-year-old candidate in May. Green Coun Magid Magid now sits with a number of young Labour and Lib Dem councillors in the chamber representing wards with significant student populations. It can only help connect communities if young people participate in political life where they spend most of the year.
Election results are more distorted by low registration and poor turnout than students voting in large numbers. Individual registration was introduced by the Tories knowing that it would remove millions of people from the register including students. A generational divide, reflected in the political process and the actions of politicians, is a big turn-off for young people. Broken promises on tuition fees and changing the goalposts on student loan repayments have not helped encourage their participation.
I agree with Mike that students should be registered to vote as part of their university enrolment. But to vote in their place of study as well as having the option to register in their home town.
Sheffield Green Party