Posts Tagged ‘electoral registation’

How do we re-engage young people in the electoral process?

03/09/2012, 02:38:52 PM

by Amanda Ramsay

Being politically active should be exciting and challenging, something to relish and throw your energies into. But with voter turnout declining sharply and only about 1% of the British population currently card-holding members of political parties, engaging young people in politics and the electoral process has never been more important.

So how do we do it?

Reducing the voting age to 16 could be a good place to start. To rehearse the well-worn argument, if you’re old enough to pay tax, marry, have children and fight and die for your country in the armed forces, surely you are old enough to vote about who runs the country?

Studies have shown that online and text voting would increase voter engagement in young people. Fraud is a huge concern with this route, but something has to change with the times. Would Saturday voting instead of the traditional Thursday help?

Raising turnout in UK elections amongst young people, maybe helped by having more young candidates to choose from. Bristol Labour party is fielding a range of young candidates at the next round of local government elections in May, including Mhari Threlfall, new student enterprise advisor at UWE (University of West of England), who tells me:

“I feel a duty to support young people. It is a bleak picture for younger people, with the average age of a councillor being 60 and rising, now more than ever it is important that young people have a voice, especially at a local level.”

Participation from younger voters might be enhanced with electronic voting options but to really improve engagement, better local and national voter registration is critical.

Traditionally, most first time voters are registered to vote by their parents or guardians, when they register the household. The Electoral Registration and Administration Bill will change all that, introducing individual electoral registration (IER). However, without direct action to encourage the young to register, apathy may be the biggest vote winner, if young people don’t bother to fill out the forms required by local councils.

The registration process for young people needs to be driven by enthusiastic young ambassadors, who can lead by example. An Operation Black Vote style campaign could galvanise a step-change in registration among young people.

Yet, on its own, a renewed registration drive will not be sufficient.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon