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Calling all students: Voting counts!

Posted on 24 Feb 2016

Today we're hearing from Rachael Farrington, a Politics student at Brunel University and founder of Voting Counts. She's telling us about how democratic engagement can make an impact in your local community.

Politics is something that influences everything around us, from how much you get paid to your education and healthcare, not using your voice means you can’t influence the way things work. Getting involved in politics can be a bit daunting, especially if you’ve not studied it at school, but it shouldn't be.

Voting is a great place to start, but unfortunately not enough young people are using the opportunities that elections present to get their opinions across to politicians. According to IPSOS Mori in 2015 only 43% of 18-24 year olds voted in the General Election, this is compared to 78% of over 65s. The result of this is that during elections politicians are looking to appeal to this older demographic to win their votes. If we want to see more policies targeted at young adults we need to make sure that we’re getting out and voting and showing politicians that we are paying attention and that our votes are here to be won!

But what if you don’t agree with any of the candidates? Staying at home and not voting just makes you a statistic, it is presumed that you are just uninterested in politics or the election and didn’t bother to have your say. By actively going to the polling station and not selecting any candidate (leaving your ballot paper blank), you become a voice for the disengaged. The total number of Blank Votes are read out at the count in each constituency, along with the results, your apathy towards the candidates and political parties will be heard and not forgotten.

There are plenty more ways to get involved in politics besides voting however, if you want to raise an issue with politicians you can write to your local MP, they will be able to reply to your query or raise it with a more senior figure. Alternatively you can start petitions or join with similar minded people through political parties or pressure groups.

Without getting a generation of young people more involved in politics we will not see significant changes to the political system. We have so many opportunities to have our say in 2016, including the London Mayoral Election, the EU referendum and elections for the devolved bodies, lets make sure we use them!

If you want to find out more about British politics and how it works you can do so on the Voting Counts website

Rachael Farrington

Rachael founded Voting Counts and runs it alongside her studies at Brunel University. "I founded Voting Counts after my friends were constantly asking me whom they should vote for, but as a member of a political party myself my answer was always pretty biased. So I wanted to create somewhere my friends could actually go and compare the parties in an unbiased way rather than hearing an often one-sided opinion from friends, family and the media. It’s important for young people to make their own informed decisions."