Pink candy-striped bags of sweets are stacked on a table at the University of Bedfordshire’s students’ union, alongside free pin badges, inscribed pens and balloons. A poster at the union’s stall reads, somewhat crudely: “Do politics, or politics will do you.”
The stall, sponsored by the youth campaigning initiative, Bite the Ballot, has been based on campus throughout the week. It’s part of an 11th-hour dash from campaigning organisations and political parties to return thousands of “missing” young people to the electoral register before Monday’s deadline.
According to figures released by the Electoral Commission last year, some 7.5 million eligible UK voters are absent from the register. In January, Labour leader Ed Miliband claimed that changes to the electoral system – the switch from household to individual-voter registration – meant that almost 1 million people had fallen off the register in just a year, many of them young people and students.