43% of 18 – 24-year-olds voted at the 2015 general election. Clearly, this is evidence of political disengagement in young people, which negatively affects our democracy because it means people aren’t choosing to vote, leading to more unrepresentative governments due to low turnout.
However, all is not lost. The Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014 gave 16 and 17-year-olds the vote and 75% of them turned out to vote with 97% reporting they would vote again in the future according to the Electoral Commission’s post-referendum report. This is evidence that 16 and 17-year-olds want to be heard but aren’t. I see this as a massive missed opportunity.
The future prospects for our democracy can be improved by enfranchising and thereby engaging 16 and 17-year-olds. If this can be achieved, they will become engaged adults who want to vote, leading to higher turnout and more representative governments.