Young People and Voting - My View
A piece by Kitty Davies, aged 15.
With young people becoming more involved in politics and the age limit for voters lowering to 16 you would think votes would be overwhelming and young people would be more knowledgeable than ever about politics. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case.
As of the Senedd’s last research, election turnouts have never even reached 50%. Even with 2.3 million people registered last year the turnout was only 46.6% based on valid votes (votes that aren’t spoiled or disallowed). Which is the most the elections have seen since 1999, the last elections to reach 46%.
You could blame teenager’s typically lazy and apathetic reputation on the lack of participation, but from my experience whenever politics and government have come up in conversation, my friends and classmates have always spoken with vigour and passion. Each person I’ve asked supporting the notion that young people should absolutely take advantage of their newfound rights. So why aren’t young people showing up?
Despite being around voting age and as someone who would consider themselves not completely politically ignorant. I had no idea about the local election that took place as of May 2022. This is relevant to a problem I believe all young people must tackle when it comes to facing modern politics. That information surrounding politics, the how, the when, the why isn’t known.
One more point that got brought up when discussing this with another young person was the distrust surrounding politics. She acknowledged that whilst voting is important therefore, she probably should vote, knowing what party actually has your best interest at heart is difficult. The empty promises and continued failing of governments, especially on the last few years, has led many to have substantial doubts. But voting on a party is still important, so how do we get insight.
This made me think, and I came to the realization, as part of a generation now a part of this system, I have no clue how to do this. I don’t know how to find good sources or even what to do or where to go to vote (and how to find out at that!). When asked about concerns on voting, young people also showed apprehension on how they were supposed to be prepared to take this new step. This isn’t new. Research done by The Welsh Government showed that ‘A lack of knowledge and general disillusionment with politics being key barriers to engagement’ has already been an issue for years.
In retaliation to this, each person I asked said that they believed young people should be given proper introductions to voting. With many supporting a school system or workshop which lay out a simple and straightforward guide to voting.
Except that already exists.
Which leads to my proposal. Teenagers, admittedly, can sometimes take some time to start on something, especially when lacking motivation or understanding. So, I believe as well as a mandatory workshop to kickstart their interest, a pamphlet or website (as lack of appearance in media has proven to be a struggle as well. In fact, I also believe modernizing to social media has a positive affect that goes unacknowledged as was shown when Tik Tok influencers Citizens Cymru Wales, got around 10,000 people to click on to the voter registration website in 2021) with easy-to-understand information on topics such as ‘What can I vote for and at which age?’ Would be beneficial. With an option that skips the overly formal language and gets to the point, boredom may become less of an issue as well.
Not only would it be easy access but also more of a struggle to ignore as the information would be physically near them and on the devices and apps that these young people use every day. In addition to this, if the workshop tried to relate the teenagers to the politics, using actual experiences that affect them instead of the normal detached, tired speech that is given to us, paired with some boring 30-minute video (that’s also completely forgettable), there’s a chance concerns and motivation surrounding voting would increase. Topics such as the NHS, public transport, school subjects that may hit closer to home could help young people truly understand the effect their vote has.
Last year an estimated 30,349 out of 65,000 16 and 17-year-olds in the 21 councils registered to vote. If voting became a more engaging and less murky, complicated topic I believe we could see a raise in this amount and possibly the turnout for Senedd Elections will even reach halfway.
For a bird's eye view.
Am olwg oddi uchod.
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