Saturday, 15 March 2014

"Do you vote?"... or: How much voter engagement is there?

These are the questions posed by the campaign group 38 Degrees:
38 Degrees | people. power. change.
... which follows on from an event in East Devon to see how many would like to get formally involved in elections:
Futures Forum: "Do you want to be a councillor?"... but "Why stand for election?" ask the younger generation...
Futures Forum: Do you want to be a councillor? Advice evening 13th March... but you must register by 28th February... presented by the Parliamentary Outreach Service

You can get involved either by contacting the 38 Degrees campaign...
or by writing to the Commons Select Committee...

38 Degrees Logo

What's gone wrong with politics in the UK? An influential committee of MPs have asked me to give evidence to them next week. They're investigating why so many people choose not to vote or to get involved in the formal political process. Please can you help decide what I should say?

I have a hunch that I'll have to tell the MPs some home truths. Lots of 38 Degrees members have told me before that they feel there are big problems with our democracy and our politicians. That's certainly how I feel.

I want to be sure I'm speaking for all 38 Degrees members, not just giving my own opinions. So what do you think? Do you think there are enough candidates worth voting for? Is it easy enough to vote? Are traditional political parties past their sell by date? What could be done?

Please take a couple of minutes to fill out this quick survey about voting and elections. I'd really appreciate getting your thoughts by Monday. Click here to get started:

The number of people who vote in elections has been declining for decades. At the last election over one third of people didn’t vote. Membership of political parties is at an all time low. As is trust in politicians.

Yet groups like 38 Degrees prove that we haven't all become apathetic. We might not all like party politics, but we do care about the future of our country and our democracy. 38 Degrees members come together to stand up for what we believe in in ever-greater numbers.

The ‘Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee’ wants to look into these trends. Why is party politics so unpopular? What turns people off voting? Could people-powered groups like 38 Degrees have something to teach parliament?

I want to be speaking for thousands of people from across the UK. Whatever your view, this is a chance to be heard together. The more of us that take part the more weight our views will carry and the more the MPs are likely to listen. Please take the quick survey now:

I look forward to seeing your thoughts,


Director, 38 Degrees

PS: This week, one MP, David T.C. Davies of Monmouth, said this about 38 Degrees members:
"Health campaigners today have been talking today about the amount of salt that we take but one has to take dangerously large pinches of salt with anything that comes out of that organisation. These people purport to be happy-go-lucky students. They are always on first name terms; Ben and Fred and Rebecca and Sarah and the rest of it. The reality is that it is a hard-nosed left-wing Labour-supporting organisation with links to some very wealthy upper middle-class socialists, despite the pretence that it likes to give out… I do not think that we have to take any lessons from 38 Degrees...”

Does this type of attitude to voters put people off voting? Take the survey: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/your-views-on-voting-and-elections

38 Degrees - Are you voting in an election this Thursday?...
38 Degrees | Campaigns

Commons Select Committee

Political and Constitutional Reform Committee

Get involved

Political and Constitutional Reform Committee - UK Parliament
Committee take further evidence on voter engagement in UK - News from Parliament - UK Parliament

Voter engagement in the UK

New inquiry - Written evidence welcomed.
Since 1945, turnout for general elections in the UK has fallen from a high of 83.9% in 1950 to a low of 59.4% in 2001. Turnout for the 2010 general election was 65.1%—higher than the previous two general elections, but still the third lowest since the introduction of universal suffrage. Turnout at the last general election was also low compared with turnout at the last parliamentary elections in other European Union countries.
There is also evidence that a significant number of people in the UK are not registered to vote, with the most recent estimates indicating that the electoral register was between 85 and 87% complete. This would mean that approximately 6.5 million people are missing from the electoral register.
In light of this, on 16 January 2014, the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee agreed to conduct an inquiry into voter registration and turnout in the UK.
Terms of reference for the inquiry
The Committee welcomes written evidence on any or all of the following questions:
Reasons for and impact of low voter engagement
  • What are the main factors that have contributed to low voter turnout in recent UK elections?
  • What are the main factors that affect voter registration? 
  • To what extent does the public’s perception of MPs, Parliament, the Government and events such as Prime Minister’s questions affect voter registration and turnout?
    o What role does the media play in this context?
  • What socioeconomic factors affect registration and turnout and what, if anything, can we learn from this about how to improve voter registration and turnout?
  • What are the costs to society of low voter registration and turnout?
Improving voter turnout
  • What are the principal ways in which voter registration and turnout could be improved?
  • What lessons can be learnt from other countries where voter registration and turnout is higher?
  • To what extent could electoral reform, rebuilding political parties or changes to party funding improve public engagement and voter turnout?
  • In what ways could new technologies be used to encourage people to vote?
  • What would be the advantages and disadvantages of allowing voters to register on the day of an election?
  • How can arrangements for British citizens living abroad to register for and vote in elections in the UK be improved?
How to respond
The Committee's original deadline for written submissions has now passed, but the Committee will still be accepting written evidence until at least 1 May 2014.  Submissions should not significantly exceed 3,000 words unless this has been cleared in advance with the Committee secretariat. Written responses to the Committee will usually be treated as evidence to the Committee and may be published. If you object to your response being made public, please make this clear when it is submitted.
Written evidence to the inquiry into Voter engagement in the UK should be submitted online:
If you are considering submitting written evidence please read the following guidelines:
If you intend to make a submission and require further time, please contact Edward Faulkner on 020 7219 0772 orfaulknere@parliament.uk

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