By Nathalie Hulbert.
Young people are being wrongfully underrepresented, and for no good reason.
With the EU referendum fast approaching, it would appear that the younger and older generation are becoming increasingly polarised.
Opinion polls conducted by the BBC reveal a truth that we already knew. A truth that is evident in the disparity between talking to our parents about the EU, and then talking to our peers. Evident in the disparity between campaign billboards in rural, familial dwellings and lively urban areas. Evident in the disparity between what you are reading in The Mirror, and what you are reading on Buzzfeed.
Younger people want in, older people want out.
An opinion poll conducted by the BBC in May 2016.
Now I need to stress something important at this point, this is not a post about what we should vote for on Thursday. I don’t know about you, but I’m bored of seeing the blatant scare-tactics being fed to us from both camps.
This post is about how we are being made to vote on Thursday if we want to have a say at all. This post is about how the younger generation, who are becoming increasingly synonymous with the Remain campaign, are under threat of being under represented by an increasingly archaic voting structure. A structure, which in my opinion, has no good excuse for being behind the times.
Every General Election conducted within the 21st Century, has yielded an average of just over 60% voter turnout, a significant decline from the averages in the 80’s and 90’s. More so, the majority of this electorate were over the age of 40.
A study conducted by the Intergenerational Foundation following the 2015 General Election.
The study above found that “Patterns of electoral participation show a strong generational gradient – younger voters were the least likely to participate and older voters the most likely”.
Taking this into consideration, it’s reasonable to worry about how many young people will vote on the 23rd June.
Stop blaming apathy
Some would say that the younger generation don’t care as much about politics which is why young voter turnout is low. Yet you only have to look as far as your social media feeds to know that this just isn’t true. How many of your friends have taken to social media to air their political views? Why is there so much digital content on my news feed surrounding the recent Referendum? How did the #notsafenotfair campaign become a trending topic on Twitter?
This generation is educated and vocal about political affairs. Don’t undersell us by saying we don’t care.
Stop blaming laziness
Many members of the older generation are less up to speed with developments in the digital world. Fewer of them use online banking, have smart phones or keep in touch with loved ones on social media. A report from Age UK has shown that those who are, are more vulnerable to internet security scams. We aren’t impatient with them, we don’t call these people lazy or stupid-we understand it’s a generational gap.
In a similar vein, the current voting system is startlingly unfamiliar to millennials.
Firstly, we need to know to register to vote at our current address about two weeks in advance, which changes more frequently for a generation of younger people who are often renters; be it students, or people starting out in their career. Those of us that register in time, then need to seek out our nearest polling station, take time out of our day to travel to a polling station and queue up to vote.
This is a lastminute.com generation where most “life-admin” is conducted online, in under an hour. Therefore it’s facetious to believe that even those who do care will change their behavioural habits, especially if they fall at the first hurdle.
Stop blaming security
So it’s clear that younger people have a political voice, and want to make it heard within a Democracy that accommodates them. The main argument remaining, is that online voting lends scope to corruption, manipulation and basically fear of the unknown.
I’m not saying there isn’t vulnerabilities, but Cyber-Security is a billion pound industry, which has become pretty adept at keeping up to date with the latest trends and threats. Yes, there will always be a risk, but just as I would rather transfer my money online as opposed to physically handing it over to stranger who has been in that job less than 24 hours, I would rather trust an automated voting system more so than one prone to human error and human bias.
In summary, the younger generation are at risk of being under represented on Thursday, on account of a system that isolates them and favours an overwhelmingly one sided sector of the population. What’s worse, proponents of this system make assumptions which scapegoat millennials and security threats
Final thought-let’s take the high road and vote on the 23rd, in hope of UK democracy catching up with the digital age soon.
Nathalie Hulbert is a marketer, blogger, and aspiring writer.
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This post was originally published on Nathalie’s blog, Blonde Leading the Blonde.