Dr Stuart Fox reveals the best route to information about the EU referendum is through registering to vote.
‘For young people, whom research has shown are less likely to vote than their elders, because of their limited interest in and (to a lesser extent) knowledge of the issues at stake, the key step in becoming more informed (and therefore interested) is to register to vote,’ says Dr Stuart Fox, research team member on the ‘Should we stay or should we go: Young People and the EU Referendum’ project.
‘Those who are registered to vote in the EU referendum by 7th June deadline are the most likely to receive campaigning material, phone calls and visits ahead of polling day, and so will have access to more information and support in actually casting a ballot.’
Data collected by the team from the British Election Study reveals that in the 2015 general election, those under-25 year olds registered to vote had a 75% likelihood of being contacted by a political party, compared with just 34% for those not registered. Subsequently, people who were contacted in some way had an 82% chance of voting in the election, compared with a 76% chance for those who were not contacted.
‘In other words,’ explains Dr Fox, ‘being on the electoral register provided a 21% boost to the chances of a potential voter being contacted and mobilised by a political party – and a huge 41% boost for the under-25s – and being contacted in turn provided a 6% boost to the chance of them actually voting because of the information and encouragement that contact provided.’
Dr Fox suggests these findings indicate that both campaigns should be focusing at present on voter registration if they want to engage young people in the EU referendum:
‘The importance of getting young people registered to vote by 7th of June is, therefore, more important than is often suggested. It is not just the capacity of young people to actually have their say in the referendum that is at stake, but the likelihood of them having the motivation to do so and the information so that they feel they can cast an informed vote. In light of the limited success both the Remain and Leave campaigns are having in persuading voters to support their positions in the referendum, getting (especially young) people registered to vote could be the most important priority for both camps of the entire referendum campaign.’
About The Project:
The ‘Should we stay or should we go: Young People and the EU Referendum’ project is a study of young people’s attitudes towards and engagement with the EU referendum campaign. Using data from a dedicated UK-wide survey of under 30s and a wide range of publicly available data and academic research we will address four key themes.
For more information go to: www.wiserd.ac.uk/eureferendum/