Statistically, young people are less likely to turn out than those who are older. So, the question is, will they bother to register and bother to vote?
In this latest student-written blog, second year student Thomas Jones has a message for potential voters in West Lancashire.
Your voice matters
Politics is a fast-paced subject that can be hard to keep track of. Questions like ‘what is currently going on’ and ‘what is going to happen with the cost-of-living crisis’ have no straightforward answers. After a long day, the news can overload us, and the last thing we want to read about is what someone said during Prime Ministers Questions.
But the reality is that politics is a vital aspect of our lives. Decisions made by politicians affect many things ranging from the quality of our pavements and roads and the ease of getting an appointment at the doctors to bigger national decisions, such as how education is funded and how the economy can be supported. All of these decisions have been made by politicians working at different levels of government. And whether it be a general election, by-election or local council election, these politicians have always been elected by a democratic vote where people have had to go out, do their democratic duty, and vote.
Young people, get out there
Younger people statistically are less likely to take part in elections. You may have failed to vote in the past, but that means things affecting your life have been decided by someone else. You may have even heard a common saying during election times: “you can’t complain if you didn’t vote”.
Young people can have a massive impact on who is elected and seeing as it’s going to affect the rest of your life, it’s especially important to ensure your voice is heard.
The tricky part
The next question is who to vote for. This is a tricky question as it is an individual choice. People will have a range of opinions on how things should be running, and we won’t all agree. Look into the views of parties and see what aligns to your values. You don’t need to agree on everything about a party, although it would be wonderful if that was the case.
Nevertheless, the things that you find important in life, for example gender, sexuality, economic status, immigration, and the environment, are things that most people will have an opinion on. Having a look at the candidates and seeing what aligns with your views is an effective way to work out who to vote for. Your vote is secret, so don’t be afraid to express your views.
X marks the ballot box
If you are reading this and are not eligible to vote, visit the gov.uk website to register. It is really very simple. With the by-election happening soon, this is a perfect opportunity to get out there and get voting. You do not need to be connected to a political party to vote for them, just turn up on the day, get your ballot paper, mark your ‘X’, and that’s it, democratic duty done.
Encourage your friends to talk about politics. There doesn’t need to be full debate around the kitchen table, but starting the conversation about voting and the significance it has is an effective way to get people thinking.
What else can you do?
If you’re very motivated, you may even help with campaign work within a political party. The party you want to help will welcome you and explain what you need to do.
Even if you don’t want to campaign, you can still vote. So go out and vote, your neighbourhood and your country depends on it.
Thomas Jones is a second year student on the BA (Hons) Politics and Sociology degree. He is a winner of a University scholarship for his work as part of the Edge Hill University Politics Lab.
December 2, 2022