Bid to boost youth vote as polling suggests widespread disillusionment

Nearly half of young people believe their vote will not make a difference, suggesting widespread disillusionment with politics, according to research.

Polling data released to coincide with National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, which is the deadline for registering to vote in local elections on May 2, also suggests fewer than one in five (19%) of 18 to 24-year-olds trust politicians.

The polling by Opinium found 44% of young people do not believe their vote would matter in an election.

In addition, just a quarter of young people said they believe their needs are regularly considered by politicians while less than a third (28%) felt those in charge of the country over the last few decades have made decisions that have had a positive impact on their lives.

Some 40% of those aged 18 and 19 were not registered to vote in 2022, according to the Electoral Commission, while 26% of 25 to 34-year-olds were not registered.

The data shows overall up to eight million people were not registered to vote in the UK.

Using population figures from the Office for National Statistics for England and Wales in 2021, the number of young people not registered to vote was estimated at approximately 4.3 million people.

This number would constitute the population of the UK’s second largest city.

The charity My Life My Say, supported by campaign groups #iWill Movement and Shape History, has launched the Give an X campaign in a bid to initiate the largest mobilisation of the youth vote in coming elections.

The research found young people consider the cost of living as the most critical challenge they faced, with 59% of respondents highlighting this option.

The NHS was cited by 39% and housing by 25% of the 1,001 18 to 24-year-olds who took part in the poll, which was held between April 10 and April 12.

Dan Lawes, head of partnerships at My Life My Say, said the involvement of young people facing “unprecedented challenges” is crucial to strengthening democracy .

He added: “On National Voter Registration Day we are proud to be standing with hundreds of organisations with one collective message – young people’s voices matter.

“It’s a call to action for every young person to step up, be counted, and shape the future they want to see.

“The ‘Give an X’ coalition stands firm in the belief that young people’s views need to be heard in the upcoming elections, which is why we are on a mission to get every single young person voting.”

Sharon Gaffka, campaign spokesperson and a former contestant on TV show Love Island, said “nothing is more important than democracy”.

“It is crucial for young voices to be heard by policymakers on issues that matter to them and register to vote before Tuesday April 16th. It takes minutes but can have a huge impact.”

The Give an X is backed by a range of brands, youth organisations, institutions and organisations, including Premier League football clubs.

Molly Maguire, volunteer and campaign co-ordinator at campaign group Make Votes Matter, said: “It is no surprise that so few young people think politics is working for them – and frankly, they’re right.

“Because of the way our elections work, and the disproportional impact of a handful of floating voters in swing seats, young people’s interests get sacrificed relative to those of other age groups in society whose support effectively counts for more.

“By registering and voting in record numbers, young people can defy politicians’ expectations – but until we change the system, young people will always be at a disadvantage.”

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