Students march to Islington Town Hall to encourage first-time voters

Young voter demo

Young voter demo - Credit: Archant

First time voters descended on the streets of Islington in a demonstration to encourage more youngsters to join the electoral role.

Young voter demo

Young voter demo - Credit: Archant

About 50 students, mainly from City and Islington College in Goswell Road, marched from their campus to Islington Town Hall in Upper Street on Thursday last week to present the forms of 1,000 newly registered voters to Mayor Theresa Debono and council chief executive Lesley Seary.

The demonstration followed a week of outreach activities coinciding with National Voter Registration Week.

Citizens UK, an alliance of 400 schools, colleges and religious groups, has been responsible for coordinating several workshops and lessons on voting and the issues that should matter to young people in the general election in May.

After a week of activities, the organisation in partnership with City and Islington College, Bite the Ballot and 38 Degrees, have managed to sign up around 1,000 new voters.

Najwa Umran, 18 and a Citizens UK student leader at City and Islington college said: “If we want to improve our opportunities around big issues like jobs and housing then we’ve got to engage with politics and voting is the first step. It’s been a tough job as we have to argue our point and counter the arguments of celebrities like Russell Brand who make sweeping statements telling us not to vote.”

Jamal Edwards, filmmaker and founder of student TV station SBTV was also part of the march and said: “When I first started SBTV, I didn’t really know about politics that much. Over the recent years, I’ve got more involved, and it’s a pleasure to see everyone here who wants to get involved in politics and make a change to how the system is currently run.

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Bite The Ballot’s co-founder, Michael Sani, said: “Today’s voter registration march by 100 young, first-time voters shows that this generation is powerful, mobilised and ready to demand change. By registering to vote, they are taking a stake in society, seizing their democratic rights and have become votes worth winning.”

Theresa Debono, Mayor of Islington Council was also impressed with the enthusiasm of Islington’s student population. She said: “This march really encouraged me that young people will be interested in putting their cross in the voting box when the day of the general election comes.”