Force young people to vote at first opportunity, says think tank

 
A woman passes a polling station The IPPR argues that young people, who are less likely to vote, have been hit hardest by spending cuts

Related Stories

Young people should be required to turn out at the first election in which they have the right to vote, the IPPR think tank has said.

The plans, to be set out in a forthcoming report, involve a small fine for young people deciding not to vote at their first election.

They would also offer first-time voters who did not back any political party a "none of the above" option.

Labour is reportedly considering whether to back the idea.

Shadow lord chancellor Sadiq Khan has also said his party might propose lowering the voting age from 18 to 16.

IPPR researchers found that the UK has one of the largest differences in voter turnout between young and old people in Europe.

In 2013 local elections, an estimated 32% of 18- to 24-year-olds voted, compared with 72% of those aged over 65, the think tank said.

It also estimated that turnout for under-35s earning less than £10,000 a year was just 34%, whereas turnout for over-55s with an income of at least £40,000 a year was 79%.

'Vicious cycle'

According to the IPPR's figures, young people have been hit hardest by public spending cuts, with 16- to 24-year-olds facing cuts to services worth 28% of their annual household income, compared with 10% of the income of those aged 55-74.

Start Quote

It could well help to reinvigorate democracy”

End Quote Sarah Birch Politics professor at Glasgow University

Guy Lodge, an associate director at the think tank, said: "Unequal turnout matters because it gives older and more affluent voters disproportionate influence at the ballot box.

"Turnout rates among the young have fallen significantly which means there is less incentive for politicians to pay attention to them.

"Young people who don't vote today are less likely than previous generations to develop the habit of voting as they get older, which is why first time compulsory voting is so important."

The result was a "vicious cycle of disaffection and under-representation" in which, he said, "As policy becomes less responsive to their interests, more and more decide that politics has little to say to them."

Report co-author Sarah Birch, a politics professor at the University of Glasgow, added: "There are many other things that young people are required to do, not the least of which is go to school.

"Adding just one more small task to this list would not represent an undue burden, and it could well help to reinvigorate democracy.

"It would make politicians target first-time voters like never before and give young voters the potential for far greater political power."

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 310.

    "Force young people to vote at first opportunity, says think tank."
    .
    And what pray, do you intend to "force" young people to do next?
    .
    How about you fill your tank with water, and then jump into it, never again to climb out.
    .
    Perhaps you can get those you control/influence to force them to breed like rabbits so as to provide more waged slaves on zero hour contracts!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 309.

    Make politicians form policies that will make people want to vote for them would be a better idea.
    It's not apathy that stops them voting it's what little choice there is to vote for, even if you do they follow their own agenda not their manifesto.
    Politicians are to blame for low turn out not the electorate.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 308.

    Forcing people to vote is not very democratic, is it?
    These people need wage-stripping to let somebody useful have a life ....

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 307.

    Please lets not get too excited about a 'none of the above' option.

    Its a way of making a tiny protest (like Jedi as a religion on the census) at being shepherded or directed to do something. It is not the means by which you change the political map, the fall of the Iron Curtain & the Arab spring (!) were not fueled by 'none of the above'.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 306.

    Absolutely sinister how quickly left-wing politics can desire/descend into authoritarianism. At least you know what you're getting with the right-wing, but left-wing authoritarianism "for your protection" is pure evil. Left-wing contempt for the freedom to not vote for them is right out of the Taliban's manual on governance. Well done Lefties.

  • rate this
    -11

    Comment number 305.

    Democracy is so precious that I think we need to make voting compulsory or incentivised in a range of ways like tax breaks, points towards uni and apprenticeships. Furthermore the age of enfranchisement needs to reduce to 16 and take place in school hours.
    BUT the big incentivisor is being able to have a direct and visible effect on parliaments agenda via live polling and IT. This is THE priority.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 304.

    Sarah Birch obviously needs to go do her homework because the statement that young people are required to go to school is incorrect. Education is compulsory, school is not. Given that she's gotten that wrong, it rather undermines the credibility of the rest of the report.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 303.

    Elections are to create the illusion of democracy, the only real difference between our democracy and a totalitarian state is that in one dissenters are ignored and in the other they are shot. State policy is much the same in both, the state is run by and for the benefit of an elite few.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 302.

    The only way I would ever think of agreeing to make voting compulsory is if they have a 'none of the above' on the ballot paper so voters can register their dissatisfaction with the candidates.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 301.

    Bonkers Idea. What they going to do arrest them and take them to the nearest polling station. Don't they understand that the electorate has been ignored for so long that people are ignoring politics. If only there was a credible party worth voting for. It seems the only choice we have is to vote for the one we least hate.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 300.

    You can only force people to vote if you offer them the option of voting for “none of the above”. In order to make such a vote have meaning, a majority for "none of the above" should severely restrict the mandate of any interim government, making it impossible for it to make any binding decisions.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 299.

    No thanks. Our electoral system is way too primitive and is clearly not fit for purpose in 2013. Forcing young people to participate in such a damaged system is not going to solve anything.

    Until we get a proportional representation system (as well as the abolition of the unelected House of Lords) then this is a complete waste of time.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 298.

    In view of the average mental capacity of a British teen being under 5, should not the age be lifted to 21+ again. Then at least they should be able to read the names. If I lived in the UK, I would worry about voting decisions being based on the X Factor - probably not a good omen for the future of the country. But hey, anything goes...

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 297.

    If the executive are so stupid as to even contemplate compulsory voting, they deserve damning even more than now.

    Until my vote counts equally with any other vote, until we get a real choice of party to vote for, and until Westminster is devoid of criminal activity, the Westminster ostriches can keep their heads buried in the sand.

    I will passionately defend my right NOT to vote.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 296.

    Has it ever occurred to the government that people are fed up with this elected dictatorship that we are forced into every 5 years - we the people want to pass laws and have a say in our day to day lives - the web can provide the mechanism for this - we dont want them and its a measure of their desperation that they want to force us into the charade that is politics..

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 295.

    J Hoovers. Thanks, I will have a read of that.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 294.

    What a great idea they too can suffer the hell that is voting for people who do not deserve to be voted for.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 293.

    Why not have an on line vote every time there is a major decision to be made? That way WE make ALL the decisions and not our present hopeless politicians. That means WE will run OUR country.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 292.

    Force some of the people to do something which is voluntary for everyone? Is this fair? Er, no. Want to engage young people? Make it a mobile app. If that happens, especially with a 'none of the above' option, even a general election refusenik pensioner like me would give it a go. (I vote in local elections, for obvious reasons.)

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 291.

    I’m assuming that ‘IPPR’ is an acronym, but the report doesn’t say of what. Imbecilic, Pointless, Prattling, Rubbish, maybe?

 

Page 4 of 19

 

More UK stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.