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One Man, One Vote, 100% Turnout Apr 19

Very disappointing news from the Electoral Commission, who have rejected the idea of lowering the UK voting age to 16. One of the more ridiculous reasons for this was that 16- and 17-year-olds might (or even would) use their votes less than the average and this would lower turnout. What they would actually be doing would be lowering percentage turnout – the number of people turning out to vote would go up!

If you follow this logic, the Electoral Commission shouldn’t run voter registration campaigns in case the people they register don’t use their votes. We should, in fact, kick off the electoral register anyone who hasn’t used their vote in, say, the last four years. That would dramatically increase turnout in future elections. What a success.

While percentage turnout is a useful measure for comparing individual elections, of course it depends on the current level of enfranchisement. (That’s why turnout in 2001 was only compared in the media to elections back to 1918.) Turnout might drop (or it could go up) the year the change is made, but from then on you have a new baseline.

And, as many people have written many times, it is neither fancy gimmicks nor fixing the way it’s counted that will resolve the issue of falling turnouts, it is engendering in the population the feeling that their vote actually matters. That means a voting system that doesn’t treat you as an irrelevance if you live in a safe seat and a Government that doesn’t introduce policies that directly contradict explicit manifesto commitments.

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