UK Election: 90,000 young people register to vote in one day in boost for Jeremy Corbyn

Surge in applications by 18- to- 24-year-olds as 22 May deadline looms

Harriet Agerholm
Monday 29 May 2017 09:05 BST
General Election Round-up: May 22

More than 90,000 young people applied to vote on Sunday, the penultimate day of electoral registration before people head to the polls in June.

The figures provide a boost to Labour, which is more popular among younger voters, polls have shown.

Yet political experts urged caution when interpreting the figures, saying the number of successful applications was unlikely to be large enough to significantly alter the outcome of the election.

Some 90,200 18- to- 24-year-olds applied to vote in the 2017 general election on 21 May, as the registration deadline loomed close.

General Election polls and projections: May 22

This compared to just 6,827 55- to- 64-year-olds, 2,628 65- to- 74-year-olds and 1,099 people over 75.

The figures came after a report found that if 18- to- 34-year-olds had turned out to the polling stations in similar proportions to the over-65s in the 2015 election, it would have been enough to deny David Cameron an overall majority.

The freshly-registered young voters joined 700,000 under 25-year-olds who have signed up to cast their ballots since the election was called.

Social media campaigns such as Grime4Corbyn, launched to reflect Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's popularity with grime artists such as Stormzy and JME, have urged young people to sign up to the list.

Labour would claim election victory if only people under 40 voted, despite being some 20 points behind overall, according to one YouGov poll.

Josh Dell from Bite The Ballot, a charity that encourages young people to engage with politics, said: “These numbers clearly demonstrate that young citizens are engaging in the current election.

"For too long it's been the case that our youngest voters are dismissed and ignored by politicians. Regardless of who they choose to vote for on June 8, the election is a monumental opportunity for this demographic to demonstrate that their views and concerns must be heard.”

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Professor John Curtice, a political scientist at the University of Strathclyde, said people should be cautious when interpreting the statistics.

"It is disproportionately younger people [who have applied to appear on the register], but you have to realise that it's disproportionately younger people who are most likely to be missed off the register in the first place," he told The Independent.

"The people who are most likely to re-register are people who have moved address, these are much more likely to be younger people and younger people are much more likely to have been missed off the original household canvass."

He also said that a large proportion of the applications were likely to be unsuccessful, due to confusion about the registration process.

"Between January and April 2015 there were five million applications of which only 1,350,000 resulted in names being added to the register," he said,

"It's simply because one of the flaws in the system is you can't use it to check whether you're on the register. Therefore people end up applying even though they're already on it."

He added that the level of registration appeared to be lower than before the 2015 general election.

"Two million applications or so have been received since the election was called. In May 2015 when there was an expected election, five million applications were made."

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