Amid concerns about the number of people who are not currently on the electoral register, campaigning bodies such as Operation Black Vote (OBV) want to highlight the value of the vote and how to register.
Those groups particularly under-represented on the voter register are young adults and people from Black minority ethnic (BME) communities.
Black and minority ethnic voters have been handed the greatest opportunity ever to effectively engage in British politics. OBV’s groundbreaking research clearly shows that the BME vote could easily decide over 160 seats. The Coalition Government has governed the UK with a working majority of just 83 seats.
Research by the Electoral Commission shows that 76 per cent of BME people are currently registered to vote, ten per cent less than white people.
To redress this imbalance, OBV has commissioned a specially converted coach to visit areas with high BME populations to encourage and enable people to vote. It will have 12 computer stations so that people can register on-line.
Helpers will be on hand to answer queries, and the Electoral Commission’s leaflet on how to register will be available on the coach in English and a variety of other languages.
Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote, said: “The heart of any democracy is its people and their engagement within it. Registering to vote ensures you are as important as any other voter in the land, no matter what your faith, your gender or your race.”
Sanjay Jagatia, Secretary General from Hindu Council UK, said: “Hindu Council UK is thrilled to be working alongside the Electoral Commission to encourage British Hindus to register to vote. We don’t want anyone to lose the opportunity to have their say at the election, so we are urging all Hindus to register as soon as possible.”
Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission, said: “It’s good to see so many faith organisations stressing the importance of registering to vote. We know that Britain’s BME communities are under-represented on the electoral register, and you can be part of changing that by taking the time to register to vote.”
Ade Omooba and Dr R David Muir, Co-Chairs of the National Church Leaders Forum, said: “The May General Election will be one of the most significant in recent decades, but if you want to vote on polling day you must be on the electoral register. The National Church Leaders Forum is encouraging everyone to take action. It’s really easy to register and by doing so you can secure your say on the issues that matter to you”.
Gurmel Singh, Secretary General of Sikh Council UK, said: “A cornerstone of a democratic society is having your voice heard and influencing the future through the ballot box. Sikh Council UK is pleased to be able to work with the Electoral Commission to promote voter registration amongst Sikhs in the UK.”
Malcolm M Deboo, President of Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe, said: “As the oldest Asian faith based voluntary organisation in the UK, the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe considers it important to team up with other organisations to encourage the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic community to register to vote. Operation Black Vote is an important voter register campaign, because in order to engage with the politicians who govern, you must vote be registered to vote.
Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “The Muslim Council of Britain is delighted to be working with the Electoral Commission to encourage Muslims across the UK to register to vote for the upcoming General Election. Politics affects us all, and so this is the time for everyone to have their say and make a difference.”