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Election turnout among young people predicted to be lowest in a decade

3 July 2024, 06:30

Turnout at this year’s election among 18-34 year olds is predicted to be the lowest it’s been for the past four elections.
Turnout at this year’s election among 18-34 year olds is predicted to be the lowest it’s been for the past four elections. Picture: Alamy/Supplied

By Amara-Sophia Elahi

Turnout at the polls on July 4 among 18-34 year olds is predicted to be the lowest it’s been for the last four elections.

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Research by the pollster Ipsos shared exclusively with LBC suggests just 46% of 18-34 year olds surveyed a week before the election will definitely vote. 

In 2019 67% of people polled in this age group said they would vote, while in 2017 74% said they would, and in 2015 62% said they would vote.

Keiran Pedley, Research Director at Ipsos, said the data was surprising, despite turnout typically being lower for 18-34 year olds than for other age groups.

“Turnout tends to fall when the result is seen as a forgone conclusion, and we also know that people tend to be less likely to show up when we see the different parties as not representing their views,” Keiran said.

“This election is taking place in an environment where there is intense distrust among the public of politics and politicians generally,” he said.

There are also indications that young people are turning away from traditional parties because they don’t feel they represent them. 

“Our research shows that among Labour voters, who tend to be from younger age groups, 30% are dissatisfied with Keir Starmer – so Labour will have to address the concerns of younger people if they want to retain these voters in the future,” Keiran added.

Jay, 26, said he wasn’t going to vote because he feels politicians are out of touch
Jay, 26, said he wasn’t going to vote because he feels politicians are out of touch. Picture: Supplied
  • Join LBC for Britain Decides our election night coverage, starting Thursday at 10pm. Our flagship program will be led by Andrew Marr and Shelagh Fogarty, with The News Agents' Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall providing expert analysis as results unfold. This comprehensive seven-hour show will be broadcast live on LBC, Global Player, TikTok, and YouTube, with a simulcast on LBC News. Stay tuned for real-time updates and insightful commentary throughout this pivotal night in British politics.

Jay, 26, said he wasn’t going to vote because he feels politicians are out of touch, especially with young people.

“Politicians and parties need a refresh, they need a complete overhaul - they need some young blood and fresh ideas, people that understand what the current times are like,” he said. 

“There’s a lack of opportunities in this country for people who don’t come from an affluent background – politicians don’t acknowledge it.

“A lot of young people don’t want to stay in the UK for that reason.”

Saskia, 21, said she’s not voting because she doesn’t have much hope in an incoming government to address the issues she believes are important.

“People are going hungry, there’s more homelessness, and more people are struggling with mental health issues – I need to see more humanity from people on these issues before I vote,” she said. 

“I have to struggle to find enough food to eat after a whole day at university… I  shouldn’t be worrying about paying £20,000 in tuition fees at the end of university, and I shouldn’t be working two jobs while trying to get an education at university - it’s not right,” she said.

Saskia, 21, said she’s not voting because she doesn’t have much hope in an incoming government
Saskia, 21, said she’s not voting because she doesn’t have much hope in an incoming government. Picture: Supplied

Despite this political disengagement, campaign groups have been trying to get younger people registered to vote and are encouraging them to turn up at the polls on Thursday – Dan Lewes, Head of Partnerships at My Life My Say, says 355,000 18-34 year olds registered to vote on the last day for voter registration. 

“We’ve partnered with brands that are popular with young people like Snapchat and Tinder to push out key messaging to get people ready to vote,” he said.

“We’ve also been collaborating with influencers from reality tv to tell people to vote, because we know seven in ten young people have taken part in votes for reality TV shows.

“Young people want to be reached out to – they’re not hard to reach, politicians just aren’t trying hard enough.

“Parties need to look at the issues young people care about and present practical policies - they like authenticity." 

The Electoral commission says that despite political apathy among young people, over half of the nearly 2.9 million people who registered to vote this year were 18-34 year olds, an important first step in getting their views across at the ballot box.

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