In the 2015 general election, 34% of the electorate did not register to vote. In the recent referendum on Britain’s place in the EU, 64% of 18-24s did not vote at all. To prevent this happening in the upcoming general election on June 8th, some Leeds-based event organisers are targeting the younger generation of voters by providing voter registration services at a series of parties.
The deadline to register to vote is on Monday 22nd May, and with this date coming fast upon us, some of the parties’ organisers are offering free entry to those who have registered. Some will offer registration services at the event itself to confront young people with their electoral responsibility. The organisers hope that these parties can be used to help mobilise young people in Leeds and raise awareness of the importance of increasing turnout among the key 18-24 age group.
Lydia Lloyd-Henry, co-founder of Puddles at Hyde Park Book Club, says, “Regardless of who people vote for, we just want everyone to vote. […] We also want to get rid of the stigma that politics and getting involved with it isn’t cool. What better way to register than while having a drink and listening to some good music?”
Love Muscle on 20th May will be one of the events offering voter registration. As one of Leeds’ most iconic nights, founder Michael Upson sees a strong link between voter registration and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community: “As with most minority groups, members of the LGB and particularly Trans community are adversely affected by changes to policy in health and welfare because they tend to rely on those services more than their straight and cis counterparts. That’s why it’s more important than ever, especially in the current political climate, for the LGBT+ community to have an active voice in this general election.”
Alex Sobel, the Labour candidate for Leeds North West constituency, has also spoken out about low rates of voter registration among young people. Leeds North West encompasses Headingley and Hyde Park, both areas with a heavy student population. Sobel says, “In Leeds North West, 27.5% of people are aged 18-24 but fewer than that are registered and even fewer vote. But the election here could be decided by those same young people if they voted. Young people have a voice and power to have that voice heard.”
Voter registration is just the first step. Getting people into the polling booths is another thing entirely. To encourage this, Lord of the Tings are offering discount codes to registered voters for their event on 30th May. Finally, there will be a Vote 2 Party at Wire on Wednesday 7th June, with a completely free ticket provided for anyone who provides proof of registration. This event will be a collaboration between Brotherhood Sound System, Cosmic Slop, Brudenell Groove, On Rotation, Glug Glug and And/Or Emporium, bringing the lynchpins of the Leeds creatives scene together.
For a full list of the parties, links to the events and details of the services they’ll be offering, see below and to register to vote online now, click here.
Puddles @ Hyde Park Book Club, Friday 19th May
This will be a free party, with a laptop to provide registration services on the night. Posters will be offered to the first few to register.
Love Muscle @ Wharf Chambers, Saturday 20th May
Voter registration services will be provided on the night.
Get Out The Vote @ Hyde Park Book Club, Monday 22nd May
Get Out The Vote will be a free party, bringing together local talents from Leeds’ music, arts and food scene. A voter registration service will be offered throughout the night, as well as available advice on tactical voting.
Lord of the Tings 3rd Birthday @ Church, Tuesday 30th May
Discount codes for tickets will be sent to any registered voters who message their Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org with proof of their registration (a polling card, or just the confirmation of registration email)