VIDEO: Bristol students urged to vote for Bristol mayor
Students in Bristol are being urged not to ignore next month’s mayoral election and, instead, head to the polls as the city’s new leader will have a direct impact on the issues that affect their lives.
ThisisBristol asked University of the West of England students Ellen Mauro and Liam Corcoran to report on the issue.
“We’re living in a city where a new mayor is going to affect change in terms of housing and transport,” said Alice Peck, from the University of Bristol’s student union. “So it’s important to make sure that we have a student voice heard and we feel we’re part of this community, this city.”
There has been a large-scale effort to engage the student vote.
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Bristol City Council has placed voting advertisements in popular student publications and even commissioned a young voters video which is running on the city’s website.
City officials were also present at freshers fairs across Bristol, joining forces with university students’ unions to sign students up to vote.
“The young voice is not necessarily heard as well we would like it to be,” said Yvonne Dawes, Bristol City Council's election manager. “Lots of issues that affect students will come out in the campaign and sometimes it’s not until closer to the election that students realise they are fired up, negatively or positively, to these issues.”
But despite the effort to get young voters to the polls, many students said they were unaware of the mayoral election and don’t plan on getting involved.
“I know absolutely nothing about the mayor election,” said first-year student Jake O’Shea. “I just haven’t heard anyone talking about it and won’t be likely to vote.”
Yvonne Dawes said the timing of the mayoral election makes it difficult to appeal to students because many of them have only been in Bristol for a short time.
“In terms of a local connection, they’re new to a place so they’re not always geared into the local things that are going on,” she said. “We’re very concerned that students might not be in the city fully and understand that they need to get on this electoral register.”
Bristol was the only city to vote in favour of an elected mayor in a referendum held in May although it’s estimated that three out of four people didn’t participate.
And while there might not be a high level of interest among students so far, some are keen to make their voices heard.
“I’d like to have a political action. I’ve never voted before so it will be the first time,” said Alex Saad, a first year student at the University of Bristol. “I would like to have a say in my local area.”
The deadline for voter registration for the mayoral election is October 31. The election will take place on November 15.