NEWS19 July 2016

Extended election periods and online voting could improve Gen Y turnout

Europe News Public Sector Trends UK Youth

UK — A new report looking at youth participation in the EU referendum has made a number of recommendations for improving turnout among that cohort. 

The report from CoVi (Common Vision): A Generation Apart: Were young people left behind by the EU referendum, is based on research conducted in partnership with Fredrich-Ebert Stiftung.

It reveals that younger people turned out to vote in significantly higher numbers than recent general elections, but still demonstrated a lower turnout than older cohorts. This follows news that the turnout among 18-24 year-olds at the referendum was significantly higher than first thought.  

The report uses post-referendum polling conducted with Opinium Research, which found that 73% of under 25s and 59% of 25-34 year-olds voted to remain in the EU. 

It also examined the key messages for their appeal to the younger cohort and, through primary analysis of over 4,000 online news headlines, found that the issues that matter to younger people – such as public services, housing and jobs – were barely covered in the debate. 

The report gave recommendations for improving voter turnout, suggesting that ‘the growing crisis that is low voter turnout among Generation Y in elections requires innovative solutions'.

It argued that the government should reconsider online voting, holding elections over more than one day and extending the vote to 16 and 17 year olds. It also claimed that analysis showed that younger people were more easily deterred from voting as they tend to see it ‘only for its extrinsic value', while older voters cited intrinsic reasons for voting. This led to a recommendation to address the broader social and political environment.