Volunteers hit Barking's streets in bid to raise voter turnout ahead of general election
PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 November 2019
A team of volunteers has hit the streets to get more people registering to vote in time for the next general election.
Members of social enterprise group Year Here were in Barking on Friday, November 1 urging members of the public to register ahead of the next national poll on December 12.
Year Here's Gervase Poulden said: "It went really well. Our aim was to reach as many groups and individuals in Barking to raise awareness of the difference their vote can make.
"People are passionate about Barking, but generally voting turnout is quite low."
Gervase went on to explain that at the last general election in 2017 Barking was the lowest in the capital when it came to the number of voters casting their ballots.
Figures from The Electoral Commission show that out of an electorate totalling 77,022, there were 47,679 valid votes counted in the 2017 election. Turnout was 61.9 per cent. This compares to Dagenham and Rainham where turnout was 64.9pc.
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Keen to increase the constituency's engagement, 20 volunteers based at the Ripple Centre in Ripple Road went out and about in the town centre to spark enthusiasm for politics.
Ann Haigh, the Liberal Democrate candidate for Barking and the Labour Party's Cllr Saima Ashraf, Cllr Simon Perry and Cllr Cameron Geddes turned up while community activists were on hand to encourage visitors.
Residents quizzed the councillors about issues including opportunities for young peopel, public spaces and voter apathy. They also shared ideas about what they wanted to change and learned how they could get involved politically. Food was supplied by the Turkish Kitchen in Ripple Road.
Visitors also had a chance to take part in a video with volunteers filming locals talk about what's important for them in Barking.
On why voting matters, Gervase said: "The more people vote and speak up in the community, the more politicians will take note and respond.
"The less people vote, the more they are taken for granted."
He added that voting wasn't all about Brexit either with a lot of other important issues coming up in the volunteers' conversations around Barking.
Anyone who needs to register to vote at the December 12 poll should do so by midnight on November 26. Visit gov.uk/register-to-vote for details.