YOUNG VOICES

General Election 2015: 70% Young People Registered To Vote, Thanks To Televised Live Debates

30/04/2015 10:21 BST | Updated 30/04/2015 10:59 BST

Nearly three quarters of the 6.8m young people in the UK have registered to vote in the upcoming general election - 14% more than in 2010, The Huffington Post UK can reveal.

The election could have the largest youth turnout since 1964 if all 70% of 18 to 24 year olds who have registered turn up to cast their vote.

The research, from youth volunteering charity vInspired, revealed the top reason for the surge in registration was down to the televised live debates. A further 23% said family members had convinced them to register, while 19% cited friends as an influence.

Speaking to HuffPost UK, 24-year-old Robyn Swan said she was voting because she wants to have a say in how the country is run. "Although none of the main parties accurately represents all of my views, I can still vote for the one that is most similar to them.

"I also think that politics has become a lot more interesting in the last five years with the rise in publicity around the live TV debates, the rise of politicians being able to engage in conversations on social media and the fact that it is so much more unpredictable now!"

Since January, 1.4m youths have applied to register - a significant peak in interest in the election - according to the figures, which used data from the Cabinet Office, Electoral Commission and the Office for National Statistics.

Matt Wright, 22, is voting for the first time and told HuffPost UK: "I registered to vote because it’s a chance for me to have a say in how the country is run. It’s up to young people to take the opportunity and have their voices listened to – we’re under-represented at polling stations and that’s why we lose out.

"Only by voting can we make the youth vote matter, make politicians shape policy towards us and determine the country’s and our own future. We really can swing the vote."

However, 16% of those registered have already decided to abstain, with the main reason being no party represents their views adequately (38% saying so). Just over one in five said the decision was down to not being able to distinguish any differences between the political parties, with a similar number citing a lack of diversity among candidates.

Moira Swinbank, chief executive of vInspired, said the increase in figures gave the charity hope young people are starting to recognise the value of their vote.

"We have always known that young people are not apathetic. They are hugely interested in the issues affecting our society. Our challenge has been to help them see that voting is a way to make a difference to the things they are so passionate about.

"It is now up to candidates, if they want to get young people out on May 7, to show that they are listening to and will act on the things young people care about."

Research out on Thursday revealed 60% of young people intended to vote, with Labour leading in the polls among the 18 to 24 demographic.

vInspired is the youth charity behind the Swing The Vote nationwide campaign, which is calling on young people to ensure their voice is heard – and represented – at the election.

Ukip has shed support among young people, dropping from 17% to just 10%, while the Greens have moved from 16% to 20%.