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Faith Councils Unite to Encourage Voting Registration



The Hindu Council UK has been chosen as the ‘lead’ organisation by the Election Commission for their National UK-Wide Campaign to get more ethnic minorities to vote.

Amid concerns about the number of people who are not currently on the electoral register, campaigning bodies such as Operation Black Vote (OBV) want to highlight the value of the vote and how to register. Those groups particularly under-represented on the voter register are young adults and people from Black minority ethnic (BME) communities.

Black and minority ethnic voters have been handed the greatest opportunity ever to effectively engage in British politics. OBV’s groundbreaking research clearly shows that the BME vote could easily decide over 160 seats. The Coalition Government has governed the UK with a working majority of just 83 seats. The BME electorate could influence an even greater number of seats if, as predicted, the election contest becomes ever tighter.

Research by the Electoral Commission shows that 76 per cent of BME people are currently registered to vote, ten per cent less than white people. To redress this imbalance, OBV has commissioned a specially converted coach to visit areas with high BME populations to encourage and enable people to vote. It will have 12 computer stations so that people can register on-line

A spokesperson for the Hindu Council UK said, “The right to vote has been hard-won, and it is the duty of everyone in public life, including the government, to make sure everyone who is eligible to vote is able to vote. Just by being registered gives you a voice… allows you to sit on juries as a Jury member and above politicians will listen to you as they know you have the power to decide who wins and who loses in the forthcoming the General Election. So, register today and use that vote on 7 May 2015.”

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.

Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission, said: “It’s good to see so many faith organisations stressing 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.”

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. The National Church Leaders Forum is 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 Singh, Secretary 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.”

Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the 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.”

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