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Alex and Lizzie share their opinions on why it’s so important for young people to head to the polls and use their vote.

Alex, 17

Young people in the United Kingdom are very lucky. We have the right to vote in democratic elections. In other places in the world, young people aren’t so lucky. In countries like Syria, young people our age are fighting for democracy. That’s why it is so important for young people in the UK to vote: a vote is a symbol of liberty.

Less than half of eligible young people voted in 2010. This means that, for political parties to gain votes, they have to focus on policies to attract older voters. As a group, young people make up a considerable voting mass. Future elections are predicted to be the closest for decades: in the 2010 election the constituency of Thurrock had a majority of only 92. If more young people voted in this constituency, they could possibly have sparked a debate on policies that young people care about.

Who should I vote for?

Many young people in the UK suggest the main reason that they don’t vote is because they can’t find a party that fully reflects their own view. Politics is about debate, and if all voters looked for a party that they fully agreed with, voter turnout would be single figures!

Around election time party activists will be shoving campaign leaflets through your letterbox; I would suggest you read these, find the party you agree with the most on key issues and vote for them.

The news is also a great way to listen to a party’s views from leaders and candidates. They will be making decisions on issues involving education, training, immigration and even learner driver laws that all affect young people.

Compared to other European countries, UK voting levels are low. Hopefully our generation will buck this trend and use our vote – go out and vote!

Lizzie, 19

I remember sitting in a classroom aged 7 or 8, listening to my teacher talk about voting. I don’t know how we got onto the topic, but one phrase stuck with me: ‘If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about the Government.’

My view is that if you don’t take advantage of your right to democracy, you don’t have the right to moan. And moaning seems to be one of our nation’s greatest talents.

There are thousands of people that pick apart what the Government is doing, explaining that they never voted for a coalition government: a normal occurrence in a democracy. But there are also those people that pick apart what the Government does even though they never vote.

Can you expect politics to change and adjust to new ideas if you’re not telling it what parts you like and more importantly, what you don’t like?

Make your voice heard

In that same classroom in primary school we learnt about the Suffragette movement – a colourful world of daring politics. The effort that these women made to get the vote puts some weight behind the huge privilege that we have. There is a lot of complacency with people our age about voting – the idea that it doesn’t matter. If anything it matters more for our age group. The fewer young people vote, the less young people will be heard.

I’ll be voting for the first time this year, as will many of my friends. Everyone has an opinion so why doesn’t everyone vote?

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