How do we get young people to vote? The solution's simple

Young people don't vote because they think the Government doesn't represent their views. They're right

Share

When Russell Brand urged young people to actively boycott politics in a recent Newsnight interview, he didn't mention they are already doing just that, at the same time those who represent us – or at least represent those who actually cast a vote – reflect the demographic make-up of our country less than ever before.

In 2010 voter turnout among 18-25 year olds was the lowest since records began – but with reason – young voters’ views are no longer reflected in Government; today’s crop of party leaders may be the youngest ever, but the average age of a member of our current parliament is older than those elected in 1979, 1983 and 1987. Over 12 per cent of Britons are from an ethnic minority, yet just over 4 per cent of parliamentarians are, and 22 per cent of parliamentarians are female, despite women making up more than half of the population. It’s really no surprise many people don’t see their vote as important.

If we want representatives that actually represent of the views of the general public, not the fanciful, extreme or dangerous, then it is in all our interests to increase youth turnout at the polls. Fortunately there are ways this can be achieved – and without middle aged politicians suddenly finding some elixir that makes them irresistible to youth voters at election time.

In Canada, studies have shown a correlation between youth turnout in elections and young people’s engagement in community volunteering. In that country, youth voter turnout is one of the highest in the Western world, as are levels of community engagement. It must be one of the least surprising and worse kept secrets that, regardless of age, if you have active involvement in the community where you live you will be more concerned about it, and therefore more likely to want to exercise your vote in elections for those who seek to represent your neighbourhood.

Over the coming months, UpRising, the social youth engagement charity I run, will launch a new nationwide youth democratic engagement programme. In six locations across the UK - London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bedfordshire, Liverpool and Stoke – we aim to begin a turn-around in youth voting by helping many thousands of young people take part in social action and community projects.  This will foster the development of a natural passion for democratic change in its fullest sense - including exercising their right to vote. Through this dialogue and engagement, we hope to close the gap between the long decline of youth participation in elections, and the rise of the seemingly identikit politician that does not look or feel like the electorate at all.

Andrea Cooper is CEO of UpRising

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies