• Jamie Nesbit

Are young people missing out on voting?

At 10pm yesterday evening, the polling stations closed on the local elections across the country. A day that has months of campaigning and lead up to it, covered by the majority of media outlets and discussed widely across the country. But for a decision that has the potential to impact the next 4 years of young people’s lives – and arguably a very important 4 years for them – why is young people voter engagement still low?


Previous research suggests that there is a certain level of cynicism with younger votes, and they feel as though their votes will have little impact. Whilst this is maybe more directed at established party politics, there is evidence from the Electoral Commission that “young people in Britain have developed a more negative attitude to the process of elections and politics over the past decade or so”.


From other research that Discovery have conducted in different sectors, young people tend to affiliate themselves with things where they feel represented. Television content, apps and fashion brands do well with younger markets because their customers could see themselves being part of the product, hence their involvement. Lower voter engagement therefore comes as no surprise when young people feel extremely under represented in local politics. The national census of local councillors shows that 45% of councillors are retired, and on average are 59 years old – concerningly only 15% are aged under 45.


So for higher engagement in local politics, younger candidates need to be encouraged, in order for some form of affiliation with the younger demographic. A clear example of that is YouTuber Niko Omilana, aged 23, who has been running for London Mayor. Regardless of whether it is a campaign for content and views on his YouTube channel, there has been huge engagement from young people, so much so that he was ahead of Reclaim Party candidate Laurence Fox in the pre-polls.


To hear more about our research with young people, please get in touch with our Young People Experts in our Hub Team. You can reach out by emailing afra@discoveryres.co.uk, or subscribing to our blog will add you to the mailing list for more information like this.