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Four ways you can support communities to vote

By Ellen Berry, head of The UK Democracy Fund, an independent, non-partisan Fund focused on building a healthy democracy in which everyone can participate and where political power is shared. Established in 2019 by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, the pooled Fund is supported by a group of committed funders to address the challenge of funding democratic participation and tackling political inequality.

Many of us were surprised when the election was called for July – but it’s not too late for your organisation to take action to tackle voter inequality.

Up to 8 million people who should be on the electoral register are missing. Meaning come election day; they will not be able to cast their ballot. The chances are they include the communities your organisation works with. Young people, those on low incomes and the insecurely housed, migrants and those from minoritized ethnicities are all less likely to vote.

Redressing this inequality is essential for shifting power, enabling all of us to be heard at elections and when policy is made. But navigating how can feel challenging.

The registration deadline is 18 June so here are four simple steps you can take right away.

Support your audiences to register to vote

Charities and civil society organisations play an important role in non-partisan voter registration campaigns. Your understanding of the communities you work with, and the trust you have developed with them, is an important factor in the success of these campaigns. Charities can undertake non-partisan voter registration activity – and you can read more here.

Crucially, you don’t have to do this alone. A growing group of organisations, from employers like the Church of England, charities such as the Poverty Alliance are joining Citizens UK’s Voter Champions campaign. They can offer support with resources to use. You can find out more here.

It could be as simple as sharing messaging and a link to the Government registration site through your mailing lists. There are lots of organisations who have already developed resources which you can use or revamp to work for you. Many of them can be found on the Democracy Classroom website, for different audiences and including in multiple languages and SEND content. My Vote My Voice is the place to go for resources for those with learning disabilities or autism. And here you can find a set of FAQs answering questions you might face.

If you have a strong social media presence you could support the Give an X campaign run by My Life My Say, the #iWill Movement and Shape History, and supported by organisations across the sector.

If you do share though mailing lists or online, you can add a tracking link which will let you know how many people clicked through to the registration site and how successful your comms were.

Let them know about postal votes

This might be particularly important for those people who lack mobility, or for other reasons would find it hard to vote in person, or for students who might not be at the home they are registered in on 4 July (or anyone going on holiday for that matter).But anyone can apply for a postal vote. As long as they do it before the deadline on 19 June.

Make sure they have the right kind of ID and remind them to bring it when they vote

For the first time at a General Election all voters will need to bring photographic ID. Reports from the recent local elections show that there are people still unaware of this requirement, or who lack clarity about what kind of ID is acceptable. Those without the right kind of ID can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate (deadline 26 June) from their local authority. If you work with young people they can apply for a free Citizen Card which they can use as voter ID if they use the code DEMOCRACY. The deadline for this is 20 June. Everyone else will need a reminder on polling day to carry their ID.

Remind them to vote on election day

Simply send a reminder on the day to get out to vote.

Whatever you do, please let us know at DemocracyFund@jrrt.org.uk. The UK Democracy Fund is building on a wealth of learning (much of which you can find here), and by capturing stories from across the sector we can find out more about what works and build momentum for future elections.

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