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Voter Participation: Young People

Volume 592: debated on Tuesday 10 February 2015

For getting young people on the register, I believe online registration makes it quicker, simpler and more convenient. It takes roughly three minutes and it will help get young people on the register. Indeed, more than 1 million applications from young people have been through the online process. We are funding a number of youth organisations who have a share of £2.5 million to promote voter registration among young people. These include the British Youth Council, UK Youth and the NUS. Finally, data sharing goes on at universities where academic registrars have to give data on enrolment to EROs, which is helping to boost registration rates at universities, as we have seen at Sheffield university.

Let me return to the value of enforcing the schools initiative from Northern Ireland, to which the Opposition are committed. As we have heard, it has been instrumental in bringing a 50% increase in the total population of young people on the register, which is really important. Why are Ministers, including the Deputy Prime Minister, who appears not to be answering questions today as he should be, not bothered about this? Why do they mention care homes, but do not want young people to get registered and get into the habit of voting?

If we did not want young people to get on the register, we would not be funding the very organisations that have the experience and expertise for getting young people to vote. That is the first point. The second is that the Northern Ireland system was paper-based, but we have an online system spanning 363 local authorities. This is a much superior system for getting young people to register from their laptops, smartphones or tablets and computers.