Blog 15 April 2024 By Alice Smith, DofE External Affairs Apprentice

Registering to vote in the local elections: What you need to know

A young person smiling directly into the camera. They are outside and sitting in front of green bushes.

Last year I voted for the first time. A week after my 18th birthday I got to vote for a single district councillor to represent my ward at our City Council and while it isn’t necessarily the most important election I’ll ever vote in, it signified the first time I had my say in the democratic process. As we approach the next set of local elections on 2 May and the General Election later in the year, youth voice and youth voting must be a priority for all decision makers.

Levels of voter turnout have been lower in 2023 than it has been previously, however turnout for young people is considerably lower than any other age bracket. Various polling agencies predict that turnout for 18-24 year olds averaged at around 50% for the 2019 General Election which is lower than every other age group. Our DofE Youth Manifesto found that 75% of 14–24-year-olds feel politicians rarely listen to the views of young people. This year’s elections are an opportunity for young people to use their vote and for policy makers to listen.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award are passionate about giving young people the chance to stand up and use their voices. Whether that’s through becoming a Young Leader, a UK Youth Ambassador or taking on a leadership role through their DofE programme. Voting in the upcoming election, and the General Election later in the year, is a great way to make sure that your voice is heard. If this is your first time voting, here are the basics:

  • Check your poll card to see where your local polling station is (you will be sent this in the post)
  • Remember to bring one accepted form of photo ID to the polling station with you, this could be your passport, driving licenses/provisional driving licenses or Blue Badge.
  • If you have a disability, your local Electoral Registration office will tell you about the physical access, low-level polling booths and any specific equipment you might need. Polling stations are open between 7am to 10pm and you can vote at any time between those hours.

This year local elections are taking place where mayors, local councillors and police and crime commissioners will be selected. While their roles and responsibilities are varied, they will all have an element of youth-focused work in their portfolios. Mayors and local councillors have youth services within their responsibilities and Police and Crime Commissioners hold the police service to account, including some youth justice service. Local elections signify the opportunity to have your say on the elected party’s performance, policy issues and the shaping of your local community. No matter your background, education or political experience, elections provide an opportunity for everyone in the electorate to contribute equally.

Our Advocacy Work.

Opportunity Finder

This link opens an external site. All content is not affiliated with DofE. Please click proceed if you understand these risks.