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Published on June 14th, 2014 | by Morgan Wolfe
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Young voters: A cultural difference or concern?

The hundred thousand casted votes in the UK’s recent European Parliament election revealed more than just the fate of the nation’s political parties.

A century of the Conservatives and Labour dominating the majority of representatives in the EU has come to an end. UKIP, the right-wing Eurosceptic party, won the popular vote (27.5%), securing themselves 24 MEP seats. Nigel Farage, UKIP’s frontman, said that this is an ‘earthquake’ in British politics. If this is earthquake in British politics, who is responsible for this seismic shift in the results?

UKIP spokesperson, Suzanne Evans admitted on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that most research and polls suggest the party has significant support among older voters–the demographic most likely to vote.

In addition, Evans said that the party had some difficulty appealing to Londoners because they tended to be “cultural, educated, and young.”

Having trouble connecting with young voters is not just a problem for the UKIP, it is a problem for every party. One in every ten 18 to 24-years-old in the UK said they did not vote in the EU election. A previous study done in 2010, predicted that the percentage of young voters in the next General Election will be lower than 50 percent.

Why aren’t young people voting?

Turning eighteen is a monumental birthday in one’s life for many reasons. In the UK, 18-year-olds may celebrate by toasting in the pub to not being a child anymore. But by becoming an adult, you have gained an important freedom–the right to vote. That should be the true celebration.

The pride in voting has been lost in the majority of the UK’s young population. They are forgetting that they should feel honoured to be given the opportunity to cast a ballot, something that millions of people all ages across the world still do not have the privilege of.

During the presidential election year of 2012, 61.8 percent of the 215,081 young, eligible Americans (18-24) voted, according to the US Census Bureau.

In contrast, only 44 percent of young people (18-24) voted during the UK’s General Election of 2010. The US is undoubtedly exceeding the UK in the percentage of young voters.

Americans are baffled by the idea of someone not wanting to vote. Whether they support the government or not, it is still a democracy that they feel they should be part of. Being able to vote is exciting and liberating for the young Americans who are just beginning to exercise their rights.

When asking young people in the UK why they did not vote in the EU elections, seven out of the ten said that they hate the Government.

Governments will never be able to accommodate everyone’s wants and desires–a similarity between the UK and the US. But that is inevitable and it should not deter anyone from expressing their opinions by voting.

The disillusioned young voters in the UK need realise that they are the country’s future. If you ‘hate’ the government: be proactive and vote for the party that represents the change you want.

Everyone has the right to a voice. Embrace it. Don’t silence it.

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About the Author

Morgan Wolfe

I am a student beginning my third year at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, studying Professional Journalism and Political Science. Dedicated to knowing current events, you can often find me watching the news or scrolling through my twitter feed, but in my free time I prefer to be outside running or reading.

  • missbea

    Hey, just wondering, in your fifth paragraph, you say that one in ten 18-24 year olds didn’t vote in the European elections. But that would mean that 90% of them did vote. That can’t be right, can it?

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