Voting and participation
Why you should register, vote and other ways to get involved in local and national politics
As soon as you turn 18, you have the right to vote. You vote to chose decision makers like Councillors, Members of Parliament and other who make decisions on how your town, county, local area, and 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. Even before you are old enough to vote, there are ways you can get involved in and influence local and national decision making.
Register as soon as you are 16 for 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.
Are young people aged 16+ 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
Before or after you start to vote, there are many other ways to get more involved in the democratic process and 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.