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Why Aren’t Young People Voting?

Despite being arguably more politically aware than previous generations, only 60% of eligible 18–19-year-olds in Britain were registered to vote in 2022 - a 6% drop  since 2018.

Of course, I completely understand why young people, having access to as much information as we do, are frustrated with the government and feel as though nothing is going to change. After all, both the Conservatives or Labour have held power for roughly the past 100 years, and the British political system is designed to keep perpetuating that cycle. Not to mention, the more time passes, the more these two parties seem to be merging their key ideologies and policies, leaving voters to simply choose between the lesser of the two evils.

This is, of course, not ideal, but that doesn’t mean young people should give up hope. We must use our voices and force politicians, regardless of their party affiliation, to start enacting policies that matter to us. The truth of the matter is that we’re the ones that will be impacted by the current government’s decisions long after the people in power are gone. We might as well make sure that the choices they make will shape Britain into a place that young people can be proud of. You see, the country is currently facing, among other issues, an unemployment crisis, an economic decline, and a struggling healthcare system, yet nothing is being done to solve any of these problems.

In fact, instead of trying to confront some of the aforementioned problems, Sunak and his rivals are more focused on creating TikToks to win over Britain’s youth. Although there may be certain merits to this strategy, given that most young people get their information from TikTok, it has yet to be determined whether this will have any real impact on voting numbers or the way people decide to vote. Of course, political point-scoring and raising awareness are important during an election cycle. That being said, when a country is suffering as much as the UK is right now, politicians turning attention towards actively addressing some of the voters' concerns instead of just making empty promises might be a better way to cure the youth’s disillusionment and get more young people to the polls. 

Hopping across the pond, it doesn’t get much better. During the 2020 election, roughly 50% of young Americans voted, which isn’t much better than the 47% turnout for the UK general election during the previous year. You don’t have to look farther than the recent presidential election to understand why. There have been countless memes across social media mocking the candidates for being entirely out-of-touch, which should come as no surprise considering that Trump is pushing 80 while Biden holds the record for being the oldest US president. Additionally, the two-party system in the US, whose inception closely followed that of its country, is perhaps even more entrenched than in the UK.

That being said, what’s uniquely interesting about Democrats and Republicans is that they’re experiencing the opposite trajectory as their supposed British counterparts. Essentially, these two parties cannot seem to agree on a single policy, and as time goes on, this divide is becoming deeper and deeper. On the surface, this may seem like a good thing, given that voters will have a real choice to make between them. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover that America is a big place with people from several different backgrounds holding various political opinions. In other words, both the Republicans and Democrats have varying levels of extremism within their membership. This means that, while voters might agree with a particular Democratic candidate, they would not support the entire ethos of the Democrats, making it incredibly difficult for young people to be confident in casting their vote.

Honestly, I could probably list 50 other reasons why young people are reticent to exercise their democratic rights, but they would all lead to the same conclusion. That is, the current state of politics is one in which old people are making detrimental decisions for the future and, consequently, failing to relate to their nation’s youth. As such, irrespective of what country they live in, young people are generally less willing to engage with traditional political institutions. However, that doesn’t mean that they are not willing to put up a good fight and ensure that their rights are upheld.

Image: Jami430

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