Today (24 March) is Voter Registration Day, when young people in Wales will be reminded to follow the simple steps to register to vote, so they can have their say in the local elections on the 5 May.
For 16-17 year olds this will be their first ever opportunity to vote in local elections following the Welsh Government lowering the voting age, but they must register before the deadline – midnight on the 14 April.
A nationwide advertising campaign to encourage voter registration is already being rolled out by Welsh Government, but key figures are now urging young people to have their say under the #BecauseICan campaign banner.
With many eyes turning towards Cardiff tonight for Wales men’s crucial World Cup playoff game against Austria, some of the country’s leading female internationals have been adding their voices to the campaign. Natasha Harding, Angharad James, Esther Morgan and Ffion Morgan have all shown their support along with Wales’s most capped football player, Jess Fishlock, who has recorded a supporting message,
“If you are over 16 years old please register to vote in in May’s local elections. Thanks for raising your voices in the stadium but remember to make your voices heard in your community as well.”
Schools and libraries across the country are getting involved by setting up bespoke registration points with staff on hand to guide anyone through the simple registration process. At Ysgol Bro Myrddin in Carmarthen. they feel it is important to encourage the students to be part of the democratic process as head Gareth Jones, subject leader in Government and Politics, explains,
“It is becoming more and more important that young people feel they can play an active part in the community and we feel it is our role to ensure they have the appropriate skills and knowledge to be able to participate in the process. At the local elections, matters are discussed that impact on their daily lives and we aim to impress on them the importance of voting and how easy it is to register to do so.
“On a very positive note, many of the young people are very engaged in the democratic process and play a key role in influencing their peers.”
Key social media influencers have also been recruited to communicate the need to register, and vote, with their young followers. TikTok sensation Ieuan Cooke has recorded a series of messages for his 400,000 followers,
“This is a great opportunity for young people to have their voices heard and it’s free and simple to do. I hope that young people hear these messages and that they not only resonate with them, but are also inspired to register and vote in the election.”
16 yr old Kayla Forde is a student at Alun High School in Mold and is very passionate about advocating for voting amongst young people in Wales and is part of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales’ youth advisory panel,
“There is a perception that it is only older people that are interested in the democratic process but I know that people my age want to help make a difference so that our generation are also represented. Voting gives all young people an opportunity to have a say on the decisions in their community that will impact on their lives. I would like to encourage anyone to get involved in helping make their local communities better places to live. Register to vote and use your vote – make a difference!”
The deadline to register to vote is midnight on the 14 April and the local elections will be held on Thursday, 5 May. You cannot vote if you have not registered by this date.
To register to vote go to: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote