An estimated three million young people will be eligible to vote at the general election but as yet are not registered to do so. At the same time political parties are failing to make their policies resonate with under-25s, and in some cases are actively favouring older voters at the expense of potential first time voters.
That's why the Centrepoint Parliament, working with other groups such as Bite the Ballot and Operation Black Vote, will be taking part in National Voter Registration Day to reconnect young people with Westminster.
Over the past few months members of the Centrepoint Parliament have been engaging with their peers in our hostels across the country to show how registering to vote can make a positive difference to their lives. Today, through their efforts, along with those of many other organisations, they will attempt to register 250,000 young voters in just one day.
Over the past 12 months a number of reports have been published into why young people are less inclined to vote than older members of the population. The common theme appears to be a lack of faith that voting will make any difference. This lack of faith leads to low turnout, which in turn leads policymakers to lean towards proposals which court older voters. This causes the number of young people voting to drop again at the subsequent election, precipitating an ever increasing gap between the turnout figures of younger and older voters.
There are thousands of young people who seemingly no longer see politics at Westminster as of any help to them. A recent Demos report found that although young women are more likely to participate in social action, they are less likely to vote than young men in the election. If even politically engaged younger voters are hesitating to vote then politicians of all parties have a duty to establish what is putting people off, and more importantly address it.
And what of those young people who have found themselves hardest hit of all groups by the economic crisis? The same report found only 46% of young people not in education, employment or training planned to vote in May's general election.
But rather than give up on politics the Centrepoint Parliament, along with organisations such as Bite the Ballot, are determined to reconnect young voters with the House of Commons. Over the past five years our Parliament Members have met with dozens of MPs and local councillors to put their case on issues as varied as education maintenance allowances, proposals to cut housing benefit for 18-21 year olds, and the need for all young people to have an equality of opportunity when it comes to securing apprenticeships, work placements and employment. To their credit, an increasing number of MPs from across the political spectrum are beginning to take up the challenge of engaging with young voters but to keep up that momentum we need more people to truly believe that the House of Commons can be a place of positive change for them too.
Over half of young people are still undecided as to who they will vote for in May it is in the interest of both young people and politicians to work together to get as many under-25s as possible reconnected with politics and registered to vote.