Open letter: Youth organisations unite behind call for online voting

petition front page

To the incoming Prime Minister,

The UK has just finished taking part in its biggest democratic exercise for a generation. Overall voter turnout may have reached 72% but not amongst young people.  According to polling data, only 36% of young people aged 18 to 24 voted – significantly lower than the proportion that turned out to vote in last year’s General Election and much lower than older age groups.

The causes are many but some are easier to fix than others. One of those is our out-dated voting system which is alien to millennials who live much of their lives digitally. The EU referendum vote coincided with university and summer holidays, as well as Glastonbury, so many more young people were away from home.

Online voting would have given young people a choice of how to vote, making it easier and more relevant to their lifestyles. Young people want this. Surveys show that young people would be much more likely to vote if they could so online.

As representatives of groups campaigning to include more young people in politics, and with the prospect of another general election looming, we are calling on the the UK government to act now to upgrade our voting system. Of course, online voting is not a silver bullet but it is a powerful and necessary tool to help increase participation. It should not be ignored.

Young people are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of this vote for generations to come. Let’s do everything we can to enable their full participation in our democracy. If we do not do so we risk leaving a whole generation even further behind.

We look forward to your response.

Areeq Chowdhury, Chief Executive of WebRoots Democracy
Oliver Sidorczcuk, Advocacy Coordinator at Bite the Ballot
Malia Bouattia, President of the National Union of Students
Mete Coban, Chief Executive of MyLifeMySay
Rachael Farrington, Founder of Voting Counts
Alice Memminger, Chief Executive of UpRising

Do you think the UK should introduce an online voting option for elections?  Take a moment to sign and share our e-petition.

The results of a YouGov poll commissioned by WebRoots Democracy and Smartmatic, published today, has found that online voting could have boosted youth voter turnout by 1.1 million in the EU referendum.

WebRoots Democracy is an independent, youth-led, organisation leading the campaign for the introduction of online voting in the United Kingdom.

Bite the Ballot is a party-neutral movement working to empower young people in democracy.

The National Union of Students is a confederation of student unions in the United Kingdom representing 95% of all higher and further education unions.

MyLifeMySay is a youth-led charitable organisation engaging young people in politics.

Voting Counts is a non-profit organisation which works on educating young people about politics with unbiased resources.

UpRising is a UK-wide youth leadership development organisation working with talented young people from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.

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