.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

How to get young people voting

The poor turnout at elections amongst the under-25s has challenged politicians ever since the voting age was lowered to 18 in 1969 and most probably before that as well. 

Now, however a Labour MP has come up with a blindingly obvious solution. Paul Blomfield, the Labour MP for Sheffield Central, has told the House of Commons that election turnout could be hugely increased if polling stations were sited in universities and sixth-form colleges:

Mr Blomfield, whose constituency is quite student-heavy, made the remarks in the Commons during a question and answer session with Cabinet Office Minister Greg Clark.

He asked: “Ministers will recognise the particular challenge of encouraging young people to engage in the electoral process, so what consideration has been given to having polling stations in sixth-form colleges, further education colleges and universities to encourage 18-year-olds to vote?

Mr Clark responded by saying he would raise the suggestion “with the relevant authorities.”
He said: “It is in all our interests to ensure that as many young people register as possible, especially in student cities such as [Sheffield].”

Speaking afterwards, Mr Blomfield suggested that people who vote at 18 “are much more likely to stick with the habit of voting” throughout their lives.

“Ministers and councils should be looking at every option to maximise the number of 18-year-olds voting. Polling stations in sixth-forms, colleges and universities would be one way of encouraging democratic engagement for 18-year-olds.”

If you get the sense I am going to rubbish this idea then you would be half-right. I happen to think that polling stations should be made more accessible and that they should be sited on campuses as Mr. Blomfield suggested, however to think that it is the solution to low-turnouts, disillusionment and disinterest amongst the young is naive to say the least.

In fact there are places throughout the UK where the practice of siting polling stations on campuses is pursued. My experience is that this does not boost turnout. That is because young people have the same issues as everybody else, they do not trust politicians and they do not see how voting is relevant to them.

If we really want to get the young voting then we have to inspire them to do so. It is a feat that Obama achieved to an extent in 2008 but I suspect that he lost them again in 2012 after having to face the harsh realities of exercising power.

There are no easy solutions to this issue. I certainly do not have any. So let us not pretend that non-voting is down to the fact that it is inconvenient to cast a ballot. It is far more complex than that.
you might go one step further and place voting places in places like shops etc where people usually go.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?