Why should you vote? What’s the point? The disconnection between young people and politics couldn’t have been more evident than in the recent EU referendum. But with a General Election looming, now is the perfect opportunity for young people to get their voices heard. So, here are a few reasons why you should get down to your polling station on Thursday June 8th…
1. People have fought and died for our right to vote…
In the UK, everyone over the age of 18 has the right to vote and decide who they want to govern the country. However, that has not always been the case. Originally, voting was limited to noble families and rich landowners, exclusively men. As time passed, more people (men) were given the vote. However, it wasn’t until the end of the First World War that all men over 18 years old were given the right to vote. Why over 18? Well, that’s the age you could join the army, and the feeling of the general public after The Great War was how come you could be sent to fight and die for your country but have no say in who sends you? Women then obtained equal voting rights after a long hard-fought campaign by the Suffragettes. The case now is whether younger adults should be allowed to vote. Why not lower the voting age to include 16 year olds? That debate continues today.
2. Others are still fighting for this right…
We’re lucky. We have the right to vote for all, but still in parts of the world this is not the case. There are many countries who don’t vote at all or still have strict restrictions on who can vote. In some countries, you need to be careful who you vote for, because if your candidate loses, you could find yourself in prison, or worse. I mean, I’m not mentioning any names but… >
3. Your vote can make a big difference
As we saw in the last General Election in 2015, your vote could make a huge difference. Statistics from Ipsos Mori show that there wasn’t any significant increase in young people voting compared to the previous general election in 2010, with 18-24 year olds almost half as likely to vote as those aged 65 and over. It highlights the disengagement young people have with politics, and given that a mere 7% swing could have made a big difference to the General Election result, the vote of 18-24 year olds matters now more than ever. It is expected that more young people will register to vote in this General Election due to their unhappiness with the result of the EU Referendum but it’s important we all have our say.
4. Voting has huge benefits
According to Bite The Ballot, a party-neutral movement encouraging young people to engage in democracy, only half of 18-24 year olds that live in the UK are registered to vote. This means that even though we have the most connected generation thanks to the internet, less than a quarter of the country’s young people actually have their say. Perhaps this is why subjects that disproportionately affect the young – such as tuition fees and voting reform – get bumped down the political agenda. Also, if your name doesn’t appear on the electoral register, it can have a big impact on your prospects of getting a mortgage and obtaining insurance.
5. Vote to protect your future
Think of what you might want to do in the next 5 years. That’s how long a parliament lasts (normally). You’re going to graduate, want to get the job you worked hard for, rent a flat, buy a house and maybe even get married and have kids. The government directly affects all of these things. So why would you not want to have a say in who the government is?