THE BLOG

Balancing the Vote

02/06/2016 16:33 | Updated 02 June 2016

young voter

We're fast approaching another vote and, once again, things are flying at a crazy speed here at HOPE not hate.

Only this time we're not facing a typical election. The EU Referendum on 23 June will have ramifications for generations to come. Already both Leave and Remain campaigns are mired in controversies amid bitter mudslinging, much of which is a turn off to the young.

We're neither "In" nor "Out", but over the past two years we've been focusing on the worrying decline in young people voting. Where people don't vote, they're denied a voice. Disaffection and alienation can set in, and that's when extremists can look for inroads.

Young people aren't voting

The old are voting and the young are not. That creates an imbalance across our society. Young people are twice as likely as the population at large not to be registered to vote, (almost 30%), compared to 95% of over-65s. Thanks to changes that were rushed in last December, 770,000 people have dropped off the register since 1 December.

Compounding this situation is the fact students will have returned home from university by the time the referendum hits (the same weekend as Glastonbury) - thus have to re-register to vote at their home address - and according to YouGov polling we commissioned, only half (51%) said they were absolutely certain to vote.

What's more, young people (18-30) tended to view the referendum debate as "two groups of old men shouting at each other" - not exactly endearing or seen as relevant.

The #TurnUp campaign

Although we're sometimes known for our exposés of extremists and extremism, we've long mobilised our supporters to battle these voter drop-offs and have a very active community organising team, helping strengthen ties in often-divided communities. But the EU referendum vote is a different order of magnitude to our usual campaigns.

Together with Bite The Ballot, our aim in the #TurnUp campaign is to register half-a- million young people over this coming seven days, as well as helping those in minority and faith communities to register.

You'll see our regional teams in Essex, Sheffield and other parts of Yorkshire, across Wales, in Birmingham and the Midlands, and of course out in force in London, offering free ice creams to those who register to vote. It's a brilliantly simple approach that we know works, after we piloted a Don't Get Frozen Out campaign with Ben & Jerry's earlier this year.

We've also approached businesses, trade unions, dozens of faith groups and celebrities such as comedian Eddie Izzard for their support - many of whom have graciously given it. Our #TurnUp Thunderclap now has a social reach of over 5.3million and is still growing, and we want to make this the biggest digital push of the referendum!

Bite The Ballot is doing brilliant work, too, bringing in Uber, dating app Tinder, takeaway service Deliveroo and others to support the campaign on digital platforms. And BTB's 'DeCafes' (Democracy Cafes) are an excellent idea, a place where young people can debate the issues raised by the referendum in over 50 Starbucks stores.

Already over 80,000 people have registered to vote on the online portal in the duration of our campaign - so I'm confident when I say that together we can make a difference; together we will.

Nick Lowles is founder and chief executive of anti-racism campaign HOPE not hate

HuffPost UK Young Voices is running a fortnight-long focus on the EU Referendum, examining what is at stake for Britain's young people on 23 June and why it's imperative you register to vote and have your say. If you want to have your say and blog on our platform around this topic, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com. Register to vote here.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS