19 November 2019
We’re fast-approaching our third General Election in four years. Half the country seems to be in the throws of election hysteria, with the other half channeling their inner Brenda from Bristol.
In the days following the 2017 general election, it was reported that there had been a ‘youthquake’. A quick glance at the press and social media suggested a record turnout for young voters. Indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary coined ‘Youthquake’ the word of the year.
It seemed like the unthinkable had happened. At a time of apparent indifference towards politics, young people had turned out to vote, against the odds.
But that wasn’t the case. While it’s true that it was the biggest turnout of young people since the 1992 election, there is no evidence to suggest any such ‘youthquake’ took place; just 57% of registered 18-19 year-olds voted compared to 84% of registered voters aged 70+.
The adage goes that political parties focus their efforts on older people because older people are more likely to turn out to vote. That is, in part, true. Not only are the over-50s more likely to vote, they’re also more likely to be our elected representatives. At both the 2015 and 2017 elections, the average age of a parliamentarian was 50, while the UK average age is 40.
There’s only one way to make politics more representative: vote.
The last election saw more female MPs, more BAME MPs and more LGBT MPs than ever before. The more people that vote, the more that our representatives will reflect our society.
Since turning 18 I’ve voted in every election I’ve been able to. I’m now 25 and have voted in two general elections, two council elections, two mayoral elections, two European Union elections and two referendums (Scottish and EU) and one London Assembly election. Some of these elections went the way I voted and some did not. But deep down I know that I did my part and cast my ballot. Elections matter and voting matters.
There are a few things that you can do.
- Don’t leave it too late: make sure you are registered to vote by 26th November.
- Get in-the-know about your constituency, the issues facing your community and who’s standing to be your MP.
- Vote. Come rain or shine, from 7am to 10pm on 12th December 2019, when election day comes, get out and cast your ballot.
- If you can’t vote in person, register for a postal vote to make sure your voice is heard on 12th December.
- Encourage the young people you work with to register by 26th November and to get out and vote.
Every opportunity to go to the polls is an opportunity to have your say on the future of your community and of our country. Whether or not we have our say, politics will happen and we will all feel the impact. There wasn’t a ‘youthquake’ in 2017, but let’s aim for one in 2019.
Harry Crumless – Communications Officer
Other General Election resources
We have summarised the most relevant youth sector commitments in each of the parties’ manifestos, which you can find here.
You can also find some useful information on how young people can vote and have heir voices heard here.