Government advised to consider compulsory first-time voting
According to a report published on Monday by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), voting should be made compulsory for young people eligible to take part in a general election for the first time.
The report, which aims to improve electoral participation, stated that first-time voters would face a small fine if they refuse to vote. As young people would be required to vote, it has been suggested that all ballot papers should have the “none of the above” option in case, according to the voter, none of the candidates are acceptable.
The proposal, which is already law in Australia, aims at lowering the gap between the number of young voters and those aged over 65.
In the 2013 local elections only 32% of 18-24 year olds voted, compared with 72% of over-65s. Back in 1987, the comparative disparity in voter turnout was only 4%.
Moreover, according to the IPPR “people who vote in the first election they are eligible for are much more likely to continue voting throughout their lives.”
Guy Lodge, an IPPR associate director and one of the report’s authors, explained the importance of making first time-voting compulsory: “Young people who don’t vote today are less likely than previous generations to develop the habit of voting as they get older, which is why first-time compulsory voting is so important.”
According to Lodge, it’s also a matter of classes and generations: “If young people from poorer backgrounds were required to vote this might encourage their non-voting parents and grandparents to exercise this democratic right, thereby closing the political inequality gap between classes as well as generations.”
The report comes only a week after the Labour Party announced its wish to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 years old.