Facebook called in to boost youth vote ahead of General Election

In a bid to up the number of young voters registered ahead of the General Election, the Electoral Commission has teamed up with Facebook for the new ‘use your age wisely’ campaign.

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The new campaign, which is targeted at 18 to 24 year olds, directs young Facebook users to the government’s voter registration page as it aims to communicate the ease of the process by making student-specific cultural references.

“Turning 18 is an important rite of passage for young people, and gaining the right to vote in a General Election year is a huge part of that,” said Michael Abbott, head of campaigns at the Electoral Commission.

“We saw at the Scottish Independence Referendum that young people can be one of the most engaged groups in our democracy, but they need to know that they can only have a say if they’re registered.”

The decision to allow Scottish 16-17 year olds to vote at the Referendum has been praised in some quarters after it resulted in a 75% voting turnout [ICM].

However, at the 2010 general election, only 44% of British 18-24 year olds turned out to vote – 10% fewer than the same age group’s turnout at last year’s Scottish Independence Referendum.

The Electoral Commission – pointing to a recent YouGov survey, which found that 53% of 18-24 year olds didn’t realise they could register to vote online – says it will now drive its communications around the registration process.

It will also be using mobile advertising for the first time, with young people on EE, O2 and Vodafone networks set to receive SMS/MMS messages encouraging them to register to vote in the run-up to May.

“The commission will continue to use different technologies and platforms such as Facebook to get its registration message across to students and young people,” pledged Abbott.

The Electoral Commission says that in its recent analysis of the electoral registers, it found that university towns and cities had larger falls in the number of people added to their registers compared with other places. While, as of 1 December 2014, there was a 33% fall in the number of ‘attainers’ (16 and 17 year olds) on the registers compared with figures published in March 2014.

Over recent years, many UK voters aged 18-24 have become disillusioned with the voting process. This follows failed high-profile pledges such as deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s promise to completely scrap tuition fees in 2010.

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Comments
  • Natsumi Sata 18 Mar 2015 at 2:52 am

    Young people must notice that they can happen to change something in their country. I think this is a great idea that adjusting system of voting or registration to what young people frequently use: technology. Young people’s era cannot be completed if technology was taken away from them. They have been used the quick process. Many things that were used to be taken long time can be completed in seconds as long as they have Internet connections, no matter where they are. If they can register and vote through Internet, I believe that election can be more familiar to young people. However, as we see in our daily lives, there are tons of advertisement and email about much business through social network platforms and email accounts. Young people are getting tired of receiving advertising on their timelines on Facebook. Therefore, to get more young people’s attention to joining elections, only using technology is not enough to see results. It should be outstanding enough to catch people’s attention, or it will be ignored as well as many business advertisements are ignored by scrolling down the screen.

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