In the run up to one of the closest elections ever, and with several marginal seats in south west London, every vote counts – but only 51.8% of young people voted in 2010.
Voter apathy is a problem across generations but young people are most lacklustre, lagging far behind the 74.7% turnout from the over-65s at the polls.
Forcing young people to vote was suggested by a report from Institute for Public Policy Research, who said ‘radical institutional intervention’ was required to battle inequality and draw in the ‘politically excluded’.
The report reads: “What is clear is that differences in participation and influence by class and age are evident in almost all aspects of the political process.
Game of Thrones actor Maisie Williams, who turns 18 just three weeks before May 7, has addressed the issue in an interview for Dazed magazine.
She said: “I picked up my voice at a young age and I wanna use it. People think we’re fucking stupid and we don’t know anything about anything.
“It’s really degrading. I get a lot of adults who are like, ‘You don’t know shit,’ and it’s like, ‘You don’t know shit. You have no idea what it’s like to be 17 years old’.”
Similarly the Bite the Ballot campaign tries to engage young people in the electoral process and has gathered support from a number of celebrities.
“It’s really degrading. I get a lot of adults who are like, ‘You don’t know shit,’”
Tinie Tempah said: “The more people we get actively wanting to make a change, the bigger the change we will make.”
The group are urging young people to attend polling stations even if they don’t have a political allegiance and spoil their ballots.
None of the Above, a campaign to spoil votes to show distain for the current state of politics is backed by Jamal Edwards MBE, the founder of SBTV.
He said: “See if voting can empower you to change the society we live in today.
“Remember, that includes voting for ‘None of the Above’ so that the search for new leaders may begin.”
Although the last general election just over half of young people voted, it was an increase of 2005’s record low of 38.2%.
With Hope not Hate reporting that 7.5m Britons of voting age were not registered, temptation is to say that these trends are just reflective of general voter apathy and not representative of just young people.
However, you can see that although there has been an overall dip it is not as severe as it has been for young people.
For example, 55-64 year olds had a voter turn out of 78.4% in 1964 and in 2010 had 69.4%, a slip of less than 50%.
Comparatively in 1964 76.4% of young voters turned up and the percentage remained steady at around 60% until 2001 where it dropped dramatically 40.4%.
Image courtesy of Dazed via Youtube, with thanks