Young people rush to register to vote ahead of EU elections – despite ‘cynical’ Tory tactics

The majority of new applications to vote on deadline day were from people under the age of 35.

The government’s voter registration tool saw a huge spike in applications on EU election deadline day on Tuesday – with the majority of applications coming from young people.

130,000 voter registration applications were submitted according to Cabinet Office data. Around 56% were from people under the age of 35.

The surge is significant as around a third of young people are estimated to not be on the electoral register.

Campaign group Vote For Your Future (VFYF) – a youth registration campaign – have welcomed the news, which follows polling this week from Survation – commissioned by Vote For Your Future.

The poll found that 34% of young people of 18-30 year olds are ‘certain’ to vote in this year’s European Elections, which would be an increase on the 26% who did so in 2014 – if they do indeed turn out.

Young people are far more likely to oppose Brexit. Recent YouGov analysis shows 63% of 18-24 year olds think Brexit was a bad decision. 55% of 25-49 year olds also think the decision to vote leave was wrong.

On Tuesday campaigners including Plaid Cymru condemned the government’s decision to only confirm that the EU elections would be going ahead on the last day registration was open.

Jill Evans MEP called it a ‘deeply cynical move’. She added: “[This] well leave thousands of people disenfranchised because they didn’t know there was an election happening.”

LFF analysis of Twitter output shows the Conservative party failed to mention voter registration once in the month leading up to the EU registration deadline.

In fact, out of the Brexit Pary, UKIP, Leave Means Leave, Leave.EU and Tory official Twitter accounts in the month up to 7th May, only Leave.EU mentioned registering to vote (three times).

That compares to what appears to be a sustained registration effort from the Lib Dems, Greens, Labour and the People’s Vote campaign in the run up to the deadline.

But Vote for Your Future point to their partnerships with Bumble and Grindr, two of the largest social networking apps in the UK as having a ‘major impact’ on registration numbers.

Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson, a supporter of Vote For Your Future, said:

“Vote For Your Future have always been clear – no matter how you vote, it’s vital that young people take part in this year’s European Elections. 

“With our innovative partnerships with Bumble and Grindr, as well as 100 schools, colleges and universities – young voters can swing these elections. But every election is determined by those who show up, and Vote For Your Future intend to ensure that young people of all politics make their voices heard.”

Remainer parties have seen a membership boost since the local elections. On Wednesday the Lib Dems announced that over 2,000 people have joined in the days following the locals, while the Greens say they’ve added 1,500 members – a significant boost as a proportion of their membership. LFF has asked Change UK for figures.

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

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3 Responses to “Young people rush to register to vote ahead of EU elections – despite ‘cynical’ Tory tactics”

  1. Patrick Newman

    The EU election is an excellent opportunity to check the referendum result. The Brexit party may be ahead in the polls but there is plenty of opportunity for remainers to back parties and candidates representing their choice The referendum may contribute to the long term decline of the Tory Party. Labour is standing by the policy put forward by its conference but unless May concedes much ground in the bi-party discussions Labour should be prepared to back a referendum (that may not resolve the issue!). Under the May package, there is a de facto customs union at least until the beginning of 2021but with an optional extension to 2022 – ie a temporary customs union. She will concede nothing of substance.

  2. Tom Sacold

    Why are foreigners allowed to register to vote in the UK? Surely if they are citizens of EU countries then they should register in their own country. I wonder what checking is done to prevent double registrations and double voting.

  3. The Euros and Brexit: stirring the muddied pool – The Back Room

    […] increased turnout (again above 50%) reflects higher participation among those aged 18-24, and that voter registration campaigns, and imaginative policies that appeal to younger people, are increasingly likely to bear fruit at […]

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