Young people are almost always amongst the least likely to vote. In the 2019 general election, there was talk of a youthquake – young people voting in droves for the first time in history, buoyed by Jeremy Corbyn. However, this never materialised and turnout was once again lowest amongst those under 25.
The same was seen in the United States, with Joe Biden inspiring an increase in youth turnout, but still far below that of other demographic groups.
It is this that The Youth Vote is trying to change, and their head of marketing, Joe Blomefield, spoke to The Speaker about what they are trying to achieve.
What is the current state of voting amongst young people?
“In the 2019 general election, only 47% of 18- to 24-year-olds voted. It was the only age demographic where under half of those voted and was 14 percentage points lower than overall voter turnout. Unfortunately, the trend of young people voting less often and less consistently than their elders is a common one; in 2017, only 54% of 18- to 24-year olds voted, 9 points below average voter turnout. 2015 is an unsurprisingly similar story, with the 43% turnout recorded amongst “young voters” a 23-point difference to the overall turnout numbers.”
Why are young people so unlikely to vote and why is this a problem?
“This is alarming for a variety of reasons. On one hand, an electorally indifferent, uninterested, and apathetic young electorate allows those with an agenda to paint young people as narcissistic and unintelligent. This, of course, is far from the truth.
“However, a lack of political, or more specifically electoral engagement from young people simply pushes issues that young people care about to the back of the queue as regards what should be done. Of course, that is not to say that every young person believes the same thing – it’s both patronising and incorrect to suggest that. But young people should have a say in politics, and have their voices listened to and (more importantly) treated seriously. On a greater scale, the more people participating in democratic processes, the better – it strengthens the public’s belief in democracy as a concept and ensures that politicians are held as accountable as they can be. That’s the purpose of The Youth Vote UK.”
What is The Youth Vote UK?
“We are a strictly non-partisan, politically neutral organisation dedicated to ensuring that young people both understand the importance of voting but also go and do it. We have existed since 2017 and were founded after our founder, Alex Cairns, became more and more frustrated watching his friends ignore the ballot box election after election. He decided to do something about it, and this non-profit was born.
“We have recently undergone a rebrand and have set up a new team that has brought a load of new ideas to the table regarding our campaigns, marketing, and more. They comprise of people from all walks of life and occupations: some people work in tech, some in finance, and some in retail. Some are completing degrees; some, the ACA. What we all have in common is a desire for young people in the UK to understand why voting is important, and to get them doing it! When you really strip our purpose back, you get our slogan: Helping Young People Tick.”
How are you trying to get young people to vote?
“As regards our current work, we are getting ready for the local and regional elections in May 2021. As mentioned, this involved a rebrand: we have a new website at theyouthvoteuk.com. Here we will be providing insight into youth voting activity through our brand-new blog, as well as releasing a variety of multimedia content going into the new year.
Speaking of multimedia content, all our social media channels have been updated and we have recently launched an Instagram account that you can follow @theyouthvoteuk. Here, as well as through our other social media channels, we’ll be providing content on voting trends and issues that are salient among young people. Away from the Internet, we’re planning (COVID-19 permitting) an on-the-ground campaign, touring a variety of educational facilities to get out the vote!”