Faith leaders unite to encourage voter registration on National Voter Registration Day

PUBLISHED ON 6TH FEBRUARY 2015

As Operation Black Vote (OBV) take their voter registration bus on the road, faith leaders from across Great Britain have come together to send a clear message to their communities: make sure you’re registered to vote.

OBV – which works to increase political representation of Black and Minority Ethnic communities – is taking the OBV eXpress bus around the country to areas with high BME populations.

The vehicle, which has 12 computer stations to allow people to register to vote online, will visit areas across England, Wales and Scotland with large BME populations. The tour begins today – on National Voter Registration Day – and will run until the deadline to register to vote for the General Election on 20 April.

On board the bus, visitors will also have access to information on voter registration in a number of languages and will see posters featuring the supporting faith leaders.

Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote, said: “The heart of any democracy is its people and their engagement within it. Registering to vote ensures you are as important as any other voter in the land, no matter what your faith, your gender or your race.”

Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission, said: “We’re delighted that faith leaders have joined together to highlight the importance of registering to vote.  We know that Britain’s BME communities are under-represented on the electoral register, and you can be part of changing that by taking the time to register to vote”

BMERegister_A4_Poster

Ade Omooba and Dr R David Muir, Co-Chairs of the National Church Leaders Forum, said: “The May General Election will be one of the most significant in recent decades, but if you want to vote on polling day you must be on the electoral register. We’re encouraging everyone to take action. It’s really easy to register and by doing so you can secure your say on the issues that matter to you.”

Gurmel SinghSecretary General of Sikh Council UK, said: “A cornerstone of a democratic society is having your voice heard and influencing the future through the ballot box.  Sikh Council UK is pleased to be able to work with the Electoral Commission to promote voter registration amongst Sikhs in the UK.”

Malcolm M Deboo, President of Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europesaid: “As the oldest Asian faith based voluntary organisation in the UK, the Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe considers it important to team up with other organisations to encourage the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic community to register to vote.  Operation Black Vote is an important voter register campaign, because in order to engage with the politicians who govern, you must vote be registered to vote. ​

Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General from Muslim Council of Britain, said: “The Muslim Council of Britain is delighted to be working with the Electoral Commission to encourage Muslims across the UK to register to vote for the upcoming General Election. Politics affects us all, and so this is the time for everyone to have their say and make a difference.”

Sanjay Jagatia, Secretary General from Hindu Council UK, said: “Hindu Council UK is thrilled to be working alongside the Electoral Commission to encourage British Hindus to register to vote. We don’t want anyone to lose the opportunity to have their say at the election, so we are urging all Hindus to register as soon as possible.”

In addition to the above, the Council of African and Caribbean Churches are also supporting the initiative.

Research by the Electoral Commission shows that BME people are less likely to be registered to vote than the White population: 76% of Black people are registered to vote compared to 86% of White people.

Ends

For more information – or to arrange interviews – please contact:

  • Paul Hensby on 07785342667 / paul@obv.org.uk to arrange interviews with Simon Woolley, Chief Executive of Operation Black Vote.
  • Rosemary Davenport on 0207 271 0530 / rdavenport@electoralcommission.org.uk to arrange interviews with Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission.

Notes to Editors

  1. Voter registration changed in 2014 from a system where the ‘head of household’ was responsible for registering everyone in a household, to a system of Individual Electoral Registration (IER) where each person is responsible for registering themselves. You can find out more about this on the Electoral Commission’s website here. This change also introduced the ability to register online for the first time. People can now register at gov.uk/register-to-vote
  2. OBV is working with the Electoral Commission, Bite the Ballot, Operation Disability Vote, the British Chinese Project and local authorities
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