Voting and participation
Why you should vote and other ways of getting involved politically.
Once upon a time not everyone was entitled to vote. This is why it’s so important that, if you are 18 or over, you use this right to make your opinion known. Have a say in how your country and local area is run!
As soon as you turn 18, you have the right to vote. Voting allows you to help choose the politicians who make decisions about how the country is run. You can vote:
- in local, national and European elections
- for a politician you support
- for a political party whose aims you agree with.
Voting is very important as it allows you to have a say nationally in who should run the country and locally in who should be your MP. But even if you're too young to vote, there are other ways that you can get involved in and influence local and national decision making.
Your right to vote
You have the right to vote in local and general elections as soon as you turn 18, but to do so your name must be on the Register of Electors.
You can add your name to this list as soon as you turn 16 by using the form sent to every household each autumn, or by picking one up from your local council office. You can also apply to register online or by phone. The council must have your form before April if you want to vote in a May election.
Too young to vote?
Some people believe that 16 year olds should be given the right to vote and this is currently being considered by Parliament. You can join the votes at 16 campaign online.
Other ways to participate
If you're too young to vote, or just want to get more involved in the democratic process, there are other ways to get your voice heard. You can:
- join committees or funding bodies
- join your local Youth Council or School Council
- become a young person trustee
- take part in consultations
- stand for Youth Parliament.
You can find out about all sorts of different ways to have your say locally in the Make a Difference section.
Find out more…
- About My Vote Lots of information about voting – why, where and how
- Polling Station walk through takes you step by step on how to vote
- UK Youth Parliament How to get involved
- Votes at 16 campaign Join other 16 and 17 year olds calling for the right to vote
- HeadsUp - is a moderated, online space for under 18s to debate the political issues important to them. Through the forums, HeadsUp develops young people's political awareness and promotes active citizenship so they can play an effective part in the democratic processes that affect them. HeadsUp enables politicians to consult with young people, to find out their ideas, experiences and opinions. The site is run by the cross party, independent and politically neutral Hansard Society.