A campaign to increase the number of voters in Plymouth has been deemed a success by a national body and shortlisted for a national award.
The Electoral Commission has published a report praising Plymouth City Council’s individual electoral registration campaign in the run up to the 2015 local and general election. The Council worked in partnership with Plymouth University and UPSU, Plymouth Community Homes, Plymouth Community Healthcare and Derriford Hospital to maximise impact.
As part of a drive to encourage the 250,000 eligible Plymouth voters to turn out, key areas were targeted with historically low turnout of voters. The areas targeted (also known as electoral wards) were Drake, St Peter and the Waterfront, and Sutton and Mount Gould. The campaign has also been shortlisted for this year’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) PRide Awards, in the Public Sector Campaign category.
The campaign saw an increase from 4,233 registered voters in Drake ward in December 2014 to 6,768 in April 2015, while in St Peter and the Waterfront there was a increase from 8,983 t0 10,529.
The national report states: “One example (of a campaign) is Plymouth City Council, which developed a targeted campaign at their four most under-registered wards – two of which were the areas housing most of the student population.
Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “We are delighted with the success of our local registration campaign, which added thousands of people to the electoral register, and it is great to see our campaign featured in this national report.
“It is a prime example of how you can achieve greater success by working with local partners and by not using a ‘one size fits all’ approach. It is fantastic that so many students have signed up to register as we are always looking to encourage younger people to engage with politics. We hope to learn from this and build on the success with future campaigns.”
A range of methods were used to engage local people including:
• Plymouth University – approximately 25,000 students (10% of our total city population) were targeted via two debates, three registration drives on campus, e-marketing, UPSU blog site.
• Plymouth Community Homes – 20,500 homes were reached via newsletters and e-newsletters.
• Plymouth Community Healthcare – 3,000 staff reached via intranet and staff noticeboards.
• Derriford Hospital – 6,492 staff were reached via intranet and targeted emails.
The student campaign was driven by UPSU – and in particular the 2014-15 President Sarah Bowman – with support from the University, which facilitated events and assisted with a targeted marketing campaign.
Ruth Titmuss, the new President of UPSU, said: “Students at Plymouth University really got involved with the SU’s campaign to register to vote, and it is great to see how effective we were in supporting student engagement with national politics. We had great fun encouraging students through activities including ice-cream give-a-ways, pizza freebies, laser tag and the general election debates were a real hit.”
In addition there were a total of 10,939 page views to the Elections Voting section of the Plymouth City Council website, and more than 33,000 impressions on twitter.
Plymouth is included as a case study on page 44 of the national report.
For more information read the national Electoral Commission report here<http://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0006/190941/May-2015-polls-public-awareness-activity-report.pdf>.
The CIPR PRide Awards will take place in October.