Statistically, Britain’s young people are the demographic least likely to vote.
Last June, during the EU Referendum, only 64 per cent of those aged 18-24 went out and voted on Britain’s future in the European Union. Compare that with the 90 per cent turnout for 65s and over – 64 per cent of whom voted, in their drones, to Leave – and you can see where that battle was lost. Previous general election turnouts (58 per cent in the 2015, 52 in 2010 and a particularly painful 38% in 2005) make for grim viewing when it comes to arguing in favour of young people’s political engagement. While, over the past decade, youth voter turnout has slowly risen, it still pales in comparison to that of the elder generations. In short: we’re way behind.
It’s not difficult to see why. Pair a system that’s inherently complex and confusing without any kind of mandatory place in the school curriculum and young people are hardly given a head start. The political establishment is short of inspiration when it comes to promoting accessibility, or engagement (and, who knows, maybe it suits some of them that way) which means that the 18-24s bear the full brunt of that. Often, low turnout is used to scapegoat Britain’s young people as apathetic, rather than shine a light on an establishment that really isn’t catering for them. It’s a lose-lose.
With this general election, we have a chance to put that right. It’s not who you vote; it’s that you vote. Looking back, there’s a fair case for those who argue that higher youth turnout could have changed the results of some of the most important political decisions in our lifetime. Perhaps they’re right – though we’ll never really know. However, by pushing each and every young person in the UK to make their way down to the polling station (or postal vote, cos that’s a thing as well!), we give ourselves – the young people of Britain – a stake in our own future. We are the people who’ll still be around when it begins to take shape, after all.
You cannot understate the importance of a vote; it’s not your fault that, at times, the whole political thing seems a bit overwhelming. But, by side-stepping the issue entirely, know that you’re kind of letting them win. This is your future. This is your chance to have a say. Register to vote now.
Click here – it literally takes five minutes. You have until 23:59pm tonight.
Words by HQ