TUC says 4 million young people's 'missing' votes could decide election

By agency reporter
November 27, 2014

With polls suggesting that next year’s general election is too close to call, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) today (27 November)) publishes new analysis showing that there are over four million ‘missing votes’ from people under the age of 35.

The analysis – launched during the TUC’s Young Workers’ Month – finds that in the 2010 election, just 33 per cent of 18-34 year olds voted, compared to 64 per cent of those aged 35 years and older.

The number of ‘missing votes’ from young people needed to match the voting rate for those over 35 is more than four million, according to the TUC analysis.

The analysis finds that the average number of young people’s ‘missing votes’ per constituency is in excess of 11,000. This is more than the average constituency majority in 2010 of around 8,000 votes – suggesting that if more young people were to register and vote they could play a decisive role in the outcome of next year’s election.

The TUC and Bite the Ballot – a not-for-profit organisation campaigning to empower young voters – are today launching Register Your Workplace, a ‘how to’ guide for union reps aimed at increasing voter registration amongst young people. The guide includes information and practical ideas for engaging, educating and registering young people at work.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Young people have had a rough ride – first from the recession and now as a result of the austerity that followed. As long as young people are less likely to vote than older generations, politicians will continue to see them as an easy target for austerity and carry on ignoring their problems like high rents, rogue landlords, youth unemployment and low pay.”

Chair of the TUC Young Workers’ Forum Fern McCaffrey said: “If more young people decide to use the ballot box, we could bring about a political earthquake. If younger voters can match older ones, we have the power to change the result in hundreds of seats next May.

“By registering to vote, we can warn politicians we are ready to use that power. We can make sure that our jobs and pay, our chance to buy a home, our chance to study without crippling debt – our future – is at the heart of every election debate.”

Managing Director of Bite the Ballot Michael Sani said: “Politicians write policies for people who participate – those who are registered to vote, and those who vote. This means that younger citizens are often ignored. But young people have the power to change this. By registering to vote, young people become votes worth winning. They can demand change and use their power to punish or reward politicians at the ballot box.”

* The TUC analysis used general election turnout data for 2010 (Electoral Commission); Census 2011 population data (Office for National Statistics); and the report Great Britain's Electoral Registers 2011 (Electoral Commission). It found that at the 2010 election the voting rate – combining both registration rate and turnout – was 33 per cent for 18-34 year olds and 64 per cent for those aged 35 and over. For 18-34 year olds to have matched the 64 per cent voting rate in 2010, it would have required 4,260,000 more of them to vote.

* The full calculations can be found at http://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/TUC%20analysis%20of%20young%20...

* Register Your Workplace: A ‘How to’ Guide on Engaging, Educating and Registering Young People in your Workplace can be found at http://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Register%20Your%20Workplace.pdf

* More information about Bite the Ballot can be found at http://bitetheballot.co.uk/

* More on the upcoming General Election from Ekklesia here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/generalelection2015

Views expressed by individual contributors do not necessarily reflect an official Ekklesia view.

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