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“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice.” – Lyndon B. Johnson
Backbench started out with the primary aim of ensuring that Britain’s young people are better informed about politics, and better represented in the media. It is sad that such a mission is necessary, but young people are a disenfranchised and often ignored group. We can only hope that this article will at the very least inspire some of you to take the future in your own hands and sign up to vote. It is a simple and easy process that only takes a few minutes, but if enough young people do it, the small action could have massive positive implications.
In the 2010 election, the 18-24 age bracket had the lowest rate of turnout of all the demographics – 44% according to IPSOS-Mori. In contrast, those aged 65 or over turned out in force. As much as we wish to applaud the fact that the older generation voted in such high numbers, it is tragic that young people do not wish to engage in politics in a comparable manner. After all, Britain’s political future will have ramifications for our age range more than any other group.
Young people account for 11.3% of the voting population – that’s a higher percentage than the entire population of Scotland. One could only imagine what would happen if we harnessed our democratic power come May 2015 – the result would be revolutionary.
But to the young people who are reading this, you need to take action. Today is National Voter Registration Day, a drive aimed particularly at young people – seeking to ensure that more of us are signed up to the electoral register. This is a crucially important campaign, especially so in election year. Indeed, 49% of young people are missing from the register. That means almost half of us won’t be able to vote in May – giving politicians half the reason to listen to our views.
As expressed to us by Bite the Ballot: “Politicians write policies for people who participate - those that are registered to vote, and those that vote. This means that younger citizens are often ignored. But, young people have the power to change this. By registering to vote, young people become votes worth winning. They can demand change and use their power to punish or reward politicians at the ballot box”
Bite the Ballot aims to get 250,000 more people enrolled on the electoral register, and it can be done. We just have to reject dogged apathy and embrace our ability to make a difference. Politicians should be quaking in their boots at the oncoming tide of tuned-in, politically active young voters. Democracy isn’t something that we should take lightly, it’s a tool for empowerment that young people haven’t wielded for a long time. Let’s change that in May.
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