Young people under voting spotlight…

THE Electoral Commission has set up a study to find out why young people are disengaging from politics. In the 2001 General Election, only about 35 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted. Will you be voting on May 5? If not, why not? It seems that despite rumours to the contrary, young people are interested in politics, but perhaps it’s certain issues and not party politics that floats their boat.

Stuart Mullan, outreach officer at the commission’s Belfast office, said their research indicated that young people felt unrepresented by politicians and added:

“Our research would indicate that young people are much more likely to discuss political issues than any other section of the population, and yet they clearly aren’t making the connection between the issues they are passionate about and the ballot box.”

But remember, if you DON’T vote on May 5, don’t be coming to Slugger whinging about the results!

  • Cahal

    That’s because young people are passionate about real political issues. We have a choice between 4 single issue parties.

    I will not be voting because (a) it takes so much effort to get back on the electoral register after being booted off and (b) my choice is between a right wing unionist (who will win hands down) and a couple of old right wing republicans.

    Not exacly an exciting choice.

    So in summary, too much paperwork, not enough choice.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    Perhaps the Electoral Commission might include in their investigation a look at how so many young people in working class areas were disenfranchised by the zealous application of the Electoral Fraud (so called) Act.
    Isn’t it odd that here young people are being met with official obstacles if they want to exercise their demorcratic rights whereas across the water young people are browned off with the political establishment that whatever is done to entice them to vote doesn’t work.
    One would think that it was in Belfast, not Birmingham, that a judge convicted Labour councillors of gross electoral fraud, describing it as befitting a banana republic.

  • Davros

    Do tell us how they were disenfranchised OC – getting onto and staying on the electoral register isn’t in the least difficult. And there are plenty of SF and SDLP offices who are glad to help with any problems. They do good work in that respect.
    By and large if young people wanted to be on the register, they would be on it. You are clutching at straws.

  • Dessertspoon

    I don’t think they need to do a study to find out why young people don’t vote. Cahal summed it up very well

    “……..young people are passionate about real political issues. We have a choice between 4 single issue parties.”

    I’m pleased to see that part of the work of the Electoral Commission will however be encouraging more young people to vote by making them realise that they need to help change the situation not wait around in the hope that it will.

  • David

    Couldnt agree more with Dessertspoon I think he hit the nial on the head there

  • Keith M

    “That’s because young people are passionate about real political issues. We have a choice between 4 single issue parties.”.

    I would seriously question this. In mainland UK, where “real political issues” are to the fore the turnout is lower than in Northern Ireland, in all corresponding elections. Also I don’t recall any evidence that young voters were less likely to vote in N.I. than they are in the rest of the U.K. The obvious conclusion is that the proportion of younger people voting in N.I. is greater than the rest of the U.K. Perhaps the rest of the UK should follow Northern Ireland’s political landscape if having younger voter turnout is the major issue (which I don’t believe it should be).

    To my mind, this is down to the economic security that both the UK and Ireland are currently enjoying. When you are guaranteed education, jobs a plenty and a minimum wage the lack of determination to be involved in politics is hardly surprising.

    It’s no coincidence that the country that has traditionally been one of the richest democracies (the USA) has traditionally low voter turnout. If you want their votes, let them starve!

  • El Matador

    Perhaps the Electoral Commission might include in their investigation a look at how so many young people in working class areas were disenfranchised by the zealous application of the Electoral Fraud (so called) Act.

    OC single-handedly manages to offend both the working class and young people with his comment. The system may have gotten more rigid, but w/c young people are as capable of registering as anyone else.

    Of the four main parties, SDLP Youth seem to be taking the greatest lead in encouraging young people to register: hyperlink

  • Chris Gaskin

    “SDLP Youth seem to be taking the greatest lead in encouraging young people to register”

    You may encourage but it is Sinn Féin who actually gets them on to the register. The youth vote has always been very strong for Sinn Féin and it was a point Brian Feeney made last night in relation to Foyle.

  • Occasional Commenter

    Why does everyone seem to take for granted that we should go to great lengths to get young people voting?

    Younger people are choosing not to vote, as is their right.

    The parties can’t be blamed, if there were votes to be got, they’d be successful in getting them. The parties understand that there aren’t any votes there, so there’s no point risking changing policies.

    And those young people that are interested are relatively likely to have “normal” political views. I’m 25 and have always been interested in the established parties/issues.

    In any age group, income bracket, geographical area or whatever, there’s always going to be groups that don’t feel represented but that’s what democracy is all about.

    As an aside, what’s the obsession with young leaders? There’s not reason to think that any voters, of any age, have any respect for them.

  • spirit-level

    One of the problems in our system is we don’t have a “positive no-vote”, many young people would come out for this I believe.
    Currently we only have the “spoilt ballot paper” option if we’re fed up with the lot of them! Sad

  • Rebecca Black

    Well from an entirely practical point of view, elections during exam time (may) will obviously mean that alot of students don’t bother voting.