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Youth councillor urges young adults to use their vote

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: May 20, 2014

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Youth Councillor for Staffordshire Moorlands, Joe Porter:

"Around 75 percent of the population are registered to vote –– and yet only 65 per cent of us voted in the last General Election. So what's going wrong?

"One reason is the historically low voting turnouts among 18 to 25-year-olds.

"This needs to fundamentally changed so politicians become more accountable to young people.

"Last week I turned 18. Becoming an enfranchised citizen was my best birthday present ever. Why? Because nobody can ever take this voting right away from me.

"The electoral system needs to be made more inclusive and accessible for all groups of society to ultimately strengthen the transparency of our democracy.

"Many first time voters not voting can be the result of disillusion, apathy, a feeling that politics is not for young people, voting being too time consuming, and a lack of knowledge about party politics and how to cast your vote.

"These factors all seem to disproportionately affect the youngest sections of the electorate, even though our votes are equally as important as the rest of the population's mandate.

"Young people are reported as the most likely of all groups to talk to family and friends about politics – but the least likely of all groups to vote.

"The record turnout of last year's UK Youth Parliament's 'Make Your Mark' ballot received a mandate of nearly 500,000 ballots proves a growing interest in democracy and a potential for growth in first time voters in 2015.

"Therefore, young people are interested, but feel as if 'no one party stands for me'.

"We just need to broadcast the message more effectively through appropriate means of communication to make the system more relatable, understandable and inclusive to first time voters.

"These European elections are of profound importance because the EU makes decisions that directly affect our daily lives – the water you drink, the air you breathe, the food you eat, the energy you use.

"Once you have received your polling card through the post, you can then enter your nearest polling station, put a cross next to your preferred candidate and cast your vote on May 22. If you need a helping hand at the ballot box, then it is worth visiting the BYC's League of Young Voters website for impartial information on these elections.

"Let's resolve this deepening crisis in our democracy. Let's prove we are not negative towards political elections. Let's become more civic-minded and put the life back into the nature of British democracy.

"Voting is non-existent in some parts of the world. But here in Britain it is a right – so let's be logical and use our vote."

Viewpoints: Page 26

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