Recently in my student accommodation, voting registration forms have been sent to each student. Not only did many bin them, but when I asked my friends why they weren’t voting, they replied along the lines of ‘what is the point?’ But in a political system in which the overarching decisions in society are influenced by each individual, I think this is a worrying attitude.
Of course our system isn’t perfect. The first past the post system means representatives can get elected on the back of minuscule public support, as it does not matter by how much they win, only that they get more votes than other candidates. In turn, the voting system encourages tactical voting: many vote not for the candidate they most prefer, but against the candidate they most dislike. As flawed as the system is, part of the reason why politicians continually fail to represent the needs of young people is because those very people are not showing the politicians they are a vote worth winning.
With only one in four 18 to 24-year-olds bothering to vote, it’s not surprising that the government is capable of getting away with shameful legislation such as higher tuition fees. The turn out at the Scottish independence referendum is living proof that young people can be engaged in politics, rather than fulfilling the stereotype of the lazy teenager. Significantly, around 100,000 under-18s-80 per cent of the eligible total- signed up to vote in Scotland.
As flawed as the system is, part of the reason why politicians continually fail to represent the needs of young people is because those very people are not showing the politicians they are a vote worth winning.
Although it is not common knowledge, anyone aged 16 and over in England can register to vote, despite not being able to cast their vote until the age of 18. While some may deem this pointless, I say otherwise. Ours is often branded as the silent and apathetic generation. When politicians think about policy, their decisions are informed by the people on the electoral registers and those who vote. If a surge of 16 and 17 year olds start registering early, this would hopefully will drive the politicians to step up their game and create policies which will attract and please the youth vote. Not turning up ensures that nothing ever changes, as parties will continue to work for their core demographic.
When politicians continually fail to keep to their promises and do not represent the needs to the people, its understandable why people think there isn’t a party worth voting for.Even if you feel that is the case, I would urge you nevertheless to strike your ballot! Not turning up at all merely propagates the idea that young people don’t care about politics. Turning up at the polling station shows the politicians that you’re discontent with the political climate and that change is needed.
To register to vote in the UK, click here: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote