The British Youth Council and League of Young Voters predicted an increase in both following a new YouGov poll of 18-24 year olds released today.
The British Youth Council today challenged the myth that young voters are apathetic and not going to vote at this election – with data from a specially commissioned YouGov poll which indicated registration rates could jump to 80% amongst those aged 18-24. This compares to 44%* five years ago [however we must take into account the potential for survey findings to inflate the proportion of people indicating they are registered and intend to vote]. A further60% indicate that they are certain to votein the forthcoming election (compared to 44% turnout in 2010*) suggesting that turnout amongst this group could be higher than it was in 2010.
Encouraged by these figures young leaders want more youth voices to be heard in the debate “Despite those who say voting is a waste of time we represent those who want to vote. Our strategy has been to mobilise potential young voters through registration – and challenge the parties to talk to us – not about us. Give us something to vote for!” says Mita Desai, Chair of The British Youth Council.
The poll was taken after the closing date for voter registration and also revealed that 60% stated they were certain to cast their vote.
Mita went on to say: “Our campaign has been to turn the youth vote into a powerful lobby by mobilising the numbers to the point where politicians and media take us more seriously. Every vote counts. So because we’re going to vote – make sure we, can for you!”
Labour still lead youth vote
The poll of young voters also revealed that whilst the Labour Party was the most popular on 34%, to Conservatives at 23%, this represented a drop for Labour and a gain for Conservatives since our last poll in February showing 36% (Labour) and 19% (Conservatives). Between the polls voting intention for UKIP have dropped from 17% to 10% and increased for the Greens from 16% to 20% as polling day nears.
Our young generation has grown up during the last Government (some since the age of 13) through the growing interest of the youth democracy and social action movements such as the popular Youth Parliament whose record-breaking referendum in 2014 mobilised 876,000 votes, and youth-led campaigns on ‘Votes at 16’, ‘Curriculum for Life’ and ‘Our Minds Matter’.
Exclusive new videos to young voters reach over 1.5 million and thevideos watched by over 250,000 so far: Cameron – Miliband – Bennett – Clegg and Wood
The British Youth Council charity launched its League of Young Voters coalition to campaign on both voter registration and to challenge parties to respond – over 18 months ago and has been campaigning ever since through its networks which include the UK Youth Parliament, and alongside other campaigners such as Bite the Ballot, UK Youth, Operation Black Vote, NUS and vInspired. Largely using digital and social platforms to get their messages across our have asked parties to: “pay attention to youth issues”. We then launched a manifesto based on the views of tens of thousands brought together in an animation. You can read what the main parties said in response to – Mental Health, Living Wage, Votes at 16, Save our Youth Services, as well as watching exclusive Party Leader video appeals to young voters from David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Natalie Bennett, Nick Clegg and Leanne Wood (other leaders were invited).
What’s been the impact? So far two parties have published Youth Manifestos (Labour and The Green Party) but all remain tight-lipped about the big ask – to appoint a new Youth Minister to be responsible for promises made to young voters, and be accountable to them between elections. We believe the big impact will come at the ballot box when the turnout will surprise everyone – except those politicians who paid attention and started to talk about youth issues.
And who is the most likely of all to have registered and pledge to vote – yes the Scottish with 91% registered and 86% of them planning to vote. Those 16 and 17-year-olds have caught the voting habit and if the British Youth Council succeeds in its long running campaign to reduce the franchise age to 16 for all in the UK, alongside a programme of citizenship education and engagement – we might see democracy rejuvenated – literarily.
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