Student Interview: Rachael Farrington

We’ve been speaking with Rachael Farrington who founded ‘Voting Counts’ when she was still a University student herself. We asked her to tell us more about herself and her organisation…

Racheal Farrington - Founder of Voting Counts.

1. Describe ‘Voting Counts’ for us.

Voting Counts is a simple, unbiased political resource that helps you make informed decisions when voting.

The website aims to help people understand who and what they are voting for. We use simple language to de-code politics and make it more digestible. All of our content is created by young adults and students.

2. We included a Voting Counts flyer in our March Unibox. Tell us (briefly) how you would convince students and young people that voting matters.

In May the Local Elections are taking place in many parts of England. These elections, while often forgotten, can be in some cases more important than a General Election. In Local Elections you’re deciding who will represent your local area on the Council. These people make decisions that impact your everyday life, including transport, education, leisure facilities, and recycling. Getting involved in the local elections is an opportunity to have your say on how your community should be run!

3. What inspired you to start ‘Voting Counts’?

I founded Voting Counts after my friends were constantly asking me why they should vote and whom they should vote for, but as a politically active person myself I didn’t want to impose my own personal bias on them. So I wanted to create somewhere my friends could actually go and learn about the importance of voting, as well as compare the parties in an unbiased way rather than hearing an often one-sided opinion from friends, family and the media. It’s important for young people to make their own informed decisions.

4. How did you find balance between being a student yourself and running Voting Counts?

Running the organisation was often a welcome distraction from Uni. When I had some downtime or needed a break from essays I could work on the website, developing content and reaching more young adults. Because it was something I was managing, I could put as much or little time in as was convenient around my studies.

However around election time I found myself having to dedicate a lot more time to the website and its promotion. The 2017 election was announced two weeks before my dissertation had to be in, and I was so busy with press and content creation that I probably didn’t perfect my final dissertation as much as I should have done…

5. What are you most proud of and what would you have done differently… and why?

I think I’m most proud of the amount of people we reached ahead of the 2017 election, we had 33,000 visitors to the website on election day alone. I like to think that we convinced a lot of those people to get out and have their say and gave them the information they needed to make an informed choice.

I think looking at the website I’d like to change how much video content we have. Video is a great way to reach people but I just don’t have the skills or money to invest in its creation. I hope this is something we can work on ahead of the next election.

6. What have you been most surprised about during your journey with Voting Counts?

Mostly how many people want to get involved, I’ve built a great team of volunteers who work really hard on content (we’re always looking for more people to help create content). This support is so important, and has really made the project much more fun to run.

7. What’s next for Voting Counts?

At the moment we’re focusing on the Local Elections, we have some posters and beer mats to promote voter registration which we are hoping to get into student unions and community spaces.

What happens next depends if there is another snap election on the horizon!

8. Tell us which political or public figures inspire you currently… and why?

Given that it is 100 years since the first woman took her seat in the House of Commons this year, I’d have to say Nancy Astor. As the first female MP she had a tough job to prove to critics that women did have a place in Politics. She also made sure to work with and befriend MPs of all parties and opinions in order to help develop her own understanding of the world – something I’d like to see more of amongst politicians today!

9. Finally… The UniBox is all about motivation and self-care. What do you do when you feel the need to treat yourself and show a little self-care?

A trip to the cinema is my ultimate relaxation treat. Getting away from the outside world with no distractions for a few hours is so good to take your mind off things.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us Rachael! Good luck in the run-up to the Local Elections. We’ll certainly be paying close attention! If you want to discover more about Voting Counts, visit the website here or find them on Facebook.

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