Peter Lesniak, Director of Communications, Bite the Ballot
George Jean Nathan said a hundred yeas ago that ‘bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote’. This statement is as true today as it was back then.
This is a call to action. For all those young potential voters, for those who feel disengaged with politics and democracy, for those apathetic to political challenges but also those highly involved and playing a role in their communities and society as a whole.
These are the facts. Over 60% of 18-24 year olds do not vote and the number of young people voting has not reached the threshold of 50% for the past 25 years. This means over 2.5 million young people NOT having their say for over quarter of the century. Why, you ask yourself?
From a young person’s perspective our democratic institutions often have nothing to offer them. Firstly, there seems to be no response to their voices, even if they try to reach out. Tuition fees protests and riots demonstrated total lack of trust in our democratic system, or rather in the decision-making process. Secondly, younger generations are not being taught the very basics of how to engage in the political process. There is a fundamental lack of practical knowledge about our democracy among young people coming out of education. Thirdly, and most importantly, there was no platform of engagement and communication between young people and politics. Until now…
Having built the foundations of a nationwide grassroots network and having gained support from all major political parties, the Bite the Ballot campaign will use this to create a unique and genuinely youth-led political manifesto to give young people the chance to put across their views to policy-makers in government for the first time. With the official support from the manifesto-writers, the ‘My Manifesto’ project will help to bring about a revolutionary change in the way politicians perceive young people’s views but, most importantly, it will also give us, young people, something to vote for.
This is a chance for each and every one of us to make our voices heard. Let us challenge the common misconceptions and project our views and concerns to those in positions of power and influence. Show them that the silent generation, a vote-not-worth-winning, is not silent anymore. Make them take into account our perceptions, problems, ideas and suggestions and let the millions of young people across the country become a strong voice in the society.
I’ve had my say – now will you have yours?