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

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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."

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 370.

    Differential turnout would not be an issue if every vote had equal power. In our current rotten system your vote only matters if you live in a marginal constituency. In those constituencies the political parties already assiduously court new voters.

    Young people seem to have a stronger sense of fairness than more cynical older adults – a fairer voting system is essential.
    http://wp.me/UTZ7

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 369.

    Surely this is tackling the symptom, not the disease?

    How about stopping and actually thinking about why so many young people feel that no party is worth bothering to vote for?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 368.

    A better solution is to make voting easier - allow voting at any booth in the country. There's no technical reason why every booth in the country can't have voting papers for every electorate.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 367.

    "I live in a labour stronghold. Most people i talk to wouldn't give them time of day. Problem is a number of politically out of tune people think that no matter what they do they should vote labour its bred into them."

    That is very sad to hear. Voting Labour is a first step on the road to lack of self-esteem. As for this proposal, it has a Labour electoral "scheme" written all over it.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 366.

    Most of us feel alienated and cheated by politicians these days as it is, forcing kids to vote will only make them turn off even more than they are already, bring in PR if you really want to get them enthused, after all its the voting system we always enforce on countries we invade so why not here?, as it is our system is far from inclusive, its basically a 2 party clique & is so stale it stinks.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 365.

    @361, @360. I agree with you also. I live in a labour stronghold. Most people i talk to wouldn't give them time of day. Problem is a number of politically out of tune people think that no matter what they do they should vote labour its bred into them. I vote for independents or not at all. Party politics in this country is the problem. I want an MP who isn't whipped into what policy they support.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 364.

    So, forcing ppl to vote to prove democracy works!!

    umm, must go away and think about that one....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 363.

    @355.The J Hoovers Witnesses,
    I agree with what your point on the reality of things,..might is right it would seem unfortunately.
    My main point was that only pro-statist democracy appears to be permitted,. i.e. the right to vote for a government candidate but no 'none of the above' option,.. or the ability for a state to vote for independence, but not for the individual.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 362.

    Re 348 - and not voting reduces the amount of political liars ? No, it creates an environment for them to thrive as they have little to fear from an apathetic voting population.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 361.

    360. pique

    I completely agree. There's a huge proportion of the electorate who feel powerless and disenfranchised for this reason, and that their vote is nothing more than a token gesture.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 360.

    they should make it so every vote counts before forcing people to vote. My vote is wasted every year in this labour stronghold, so why bother?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 359.

    356.TruffleShuffle
    "There must be a better way of choosing our politicians"

    ===

    Unfortunately, every one of them is someone who wants to be a politician.

    That's not always a bad thing, but often can be.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 358.

    Make voting compulsory to all, I agree. Make voting compulsory to a particular section of the population is definitely undemocratic.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 357.

    The rich and powerful should be the only ones allowed to vote. After all, the rest of our peoples votes count for nothing, so lets ditch the con they call democracy, then at least it will be an honest - though corrupt - voting system. Hang on!! It is already!!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 356.

    Democratic governance under a voting system - one person, one vote. Great in principle, but the reality is that in many places your vote won't count if your political allegance is at odds with the prevailing voter entrenchment in your ward. Elections are won/lost in the 'marginals' - i.e. a small proportaion of the overall electorate. There must be a better way of choosing our politicians.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 355.

    354.Andreas

    "Morally speaking I would still say it's private property"

    ===

    You can say what you like morally speaking, it has no bearing. Legally it is the State's as you say. In our constitution that is also called The Crown, quite a different thing from the Monarchy.

    You can be compulsorily purchased of it, for say, a new road for petrolheads, and not build without PP, etc.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 354.

    @347.The J Hoovers Witnesses,
    I think you're missing the point of my argument,.. in that only certain types of democracy are accepted by society at large, i.e. the type that ensures the continuation of the state.
    As for being property of the the crown, it's really property of the state considering the monarchy/crown can be voted out. Morally speaking I would still say it's private property.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 353.

    ' Make young people vote because they're more impressionable with bien pensant, populist ideas and less likely to vote UKIP. '

    Just because young people can join the military does not mean they're mature at the age of 16 to vote. Joining the military does not mean instant front line action - unless WW 3 breaks out . . but 2 years training, at least.

    Puberty also does not equal maturity.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 352.

    16 are they Nuts not being funny at sixteen your brain is still developing you have no life experience everything is right or wrong no gray and no concept of the consequences you vote for possibly make your first time vote compulsory if you like but make the age 21 not 16

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 351.

    If someone is too lazy to vote, what is the point to force him/her to do it? They probably have no idea what they are voting for anyway which means that their vote would be cast based on ignorance.

 

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