First-time voters speak out

Voters will go to the polls next Thursday

Voters will go to the polls next Thursday

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Have your say

With the general election looming, political reporter MILES O’LEARY takes a look a young people who are voting for the first time. He speaks to four of them to gauge their opinions on what matters to them and why.

Sam Poole

Whatever you do and wherever you live, you simply can’t escape the dominance of politics, affecting every area of your life.

The lead up to the general election is all consuming and unavoidable, regardless of how much someone understands it and the interest they may have.

In the past year or so, we have witnessed vast drama in the national news.

From the rise of Ukip and its controversial policies, to the dominance of SNP and the impact it may well have on the country if they win multiple seats in Parliament – it’s all very exciting.

Time and time again, concern has been raised young adults who are eligible to vote aren’t taking up the opportunity.

It’s argued that politicians are out of touch with young people thus leading the younger generation to feeling neglected and not ‘considered’ in decisions.

I imagine this is an opinion people up and down the nation will have.

For me, as a first time voter, I’m looking for someone who is serious about supporting young people, securing a reassured future, and someone who will fight for the voice of our community.

Ellie Pilmoor, news reporter

A FEW months ago, I wasn’t really into politics because until this election I have not been able to affect the outcome.

But with more choice than ever on who to vote for, I see this election as the most important for years.

If ever one vote was going to make the difference, it is at this year’s election.

Being a first-time voter, it can be hard knowing what parties stand for what policies, especially with so many candidates vying for one seat.

It can also be easy to follow the crowd and vote for the MP who was in last.

But in four years a lot can happen and the rise of Ukip is a clear example of that.

I have to admit, without my mum badgering me, I probably would have forgotten to register.

Even with the question being asked every day, it took me until the second week of April to log online and register.

But with my polling card sitting in the living room, I want to make sure I chose the right person and make an informed decision.

I can finally make a difference when it comes to the government and who is power.

I can choose who is speaking on my behalf and who represents me in the Houses of Parliament.

Elley Brand

VOTING for the first time is a daunting experience for me.

I haven’t had much of a big interest in politics - lack of information playing a big part in this - but as my knowledge has increased, so has my desire to vote and get involved.

Of course, age has also been a reason why I haven’t voted before.

The whole build-up to the election has been quite nerve-wracking.

With so many things being shouted at once, it’s hard to pick a clear side, and when I make a solid decision, an opposing member will shut them down, and the process starts all over again.

It’s great to feel as though you’ll have some influence about how my vote can influence my community not only on a local level, but on a national one.

It would be great to know that the person in power is someone I’d voted for.

I feel it’s also more important than ever to vote this year as well, with the rise of certain parties and their policies that would have a negative effect on me as a person.

Also, as a woman, I feel as though the way my right to vote was earned is a very important part of history, and to disregard that would be a kick in the teeth to those who suffered for my right to vote.

I know a lot of young people still view a lot of politicians as upper-class socialist snobs.

But in the end, if you don’t vote, then you’re not going to have any say.

And for all they know, their vote could have made the difference between a government they hated, and one they hate slightly less.

Craig Tilley

This year is the first time I ever get to vote in our country’s general election.

It is very exciting for any first time voter, because it is the first time we ever get to voice our vote.

The build-up to the election has grabbed my interest in politics.

It has also helped me to understand how our political system works, as well as the political theatre that goes on in political debates, whether it is on a stage with TV cameras capturing every moment or inside the House of Commons at Westminster.

As a first-time voter, it is important to me that my vote counts for what I personally believe is the best way forward for our country and my local constituency.

My main concern has always been our economy.

Since 2010, our economy has had the fastest growth out of all members of the European Union.

So I will be voting for the party whom I believe will continue our fast economic growth in the years to come.

With the growth of the minor parties, such as the SNP and UKIP, it will be very interesting to see what kind of parliament we will end up with in the next coming

week.

I don’t think any party will win an out-right majority vote, so I think we will be looking forward to a lot of theatre to come in the next week.

It will be very exciting to go to my local polling station next week, and voice my vote for what will be for first of many.

‘Bigger priorities’ put young voters off

YOUNG people’s interest in politics should not be judged on whether they vote in the upcoming general election.

That is the message from the University of Portsmouth’s political expert Dr Paul McVeigh.

Dr McVeigh, senior lecturer in international (economic) relations, said there are other ways students and young professionals show an interest.

‘Sometimes, it’s a mistake we make that we associate elections as the only way to judge people’s interest in politics,’ he said.

‘You find a lot of politics happens between elections and with single-issue campaigns.

‘Sometimes, it takes time. Young people can manifest their interest in a variety of other ways.

‘Party politics doesn’t always politicise them because they don’t necessarily trust the mainstream leaders.

‘Young people don’t necessarily relate to Ed Miliband and David Cameron.’

Dr McVeigh said bigger priorities tend to get in the way.

‘Young people don’t tend to see politics as the answer to their problems,’ Dr McVeigh said.

‘They may not see much choice between the parties, and when you are that age – 16, 17, 18, 19 – you have different priorities in your life.

‘You may want to go away or go to university or college.

‘Those are your priorities rather than necessarily being engaged in politics.

‘The time has changed a lot for young people.

‘We have got a labour market that’s not quickly going to give them the money want to earn.

‘They have got a lot of student debt, and there are problems with house prices and access to housing.’

It comes as polls suggest around 60 per cent of young people will not cast a vote on May 7.

And while in 1964 there was little difference between the 18-24 and the over 65 voting age groups, by 2005 only 28 per cent of 18-24 year olds were voting compared with 75 per cent of over-65s.

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