A campaign aiming to get the biggest ever turnout of young people in next month’s general election is “reaching more young people than any of the main political parties”, its 22-year-old director has claimed.
Lara Spirit, a Cambridge University undergraduate and leader of Vote For Your Future, said the campaign targeting 18 to 24-year-olds has a very simple and non-partisan message: “Young people need to vote.”
Vote For Your Future had already attracted huge online interest when it launched ahead of the European elections, encouraging young people to register to vote in May.
Gary Lineker, Stephen Fry and Keira Knightley are among the celebrities who have thrown their support behind the movement.
Vote For Your Future has also partnered with campaigns across the Brexit and party political divides.
Now Ms Spirit and a team of five other graduates are pushing for young people to register for the election before the November 26 deadline.
“It’s really important that we are non-partisan because there is a massive registration crisis,” she told the Standard.
According to the latest figures from the Electoral Commission, only one in three people between 18 and 24 are on the register to vote.
“This is a shocking number,” Ms Spirit said. “Young people have been ignored and shut out of electoral politics for a while.”
She said the nation’s young people are becoming increasingly vocal on issues like climate change, knife crime and Brexit – meaning it’s essential to transfer this into voting.
“It is very key that all the protests in the last year aren’t seen as an alternative to electoral politics but a central part of it.
“While a lot of young people are interested in particular issues, they do not always make the connection with them and voting.
“Many say ‘I don’t know who to vote for’ or ‘whether my vote will even make a difference’ but they are already interested in these issues. So there’s a real need for a campaign to fill that gap.”
Vote For Your Future is targeting 46 seats across the UK where there are particularly high numbers of young people.
The aim is prove that no matter how someone casts their ballot, young people’s votes can make a huge difference.
The campaign wants to reach about 650,000 people between 18 and 24 across constituencies in Northern Ireland, Yorkshire, Wales and the east Midlands. The Cities of London and Westminster is also on the list.
On November 23, the group says it will hold the biggest registration action day “in history” with the help of volunteers and student unions.
“Nobody will have as many feet on the ground,” Ms Spirit said. “We will have a ton of people knocking on doors and handing out leaflets in those constituencies.
“We had to do something to register young people. It was was crazy that the resources were out there to do this and no one had.”
But she added it shouldn’t be down to a small group of people under 24.
“There should be a publicly funded government body that is responsible for getting young people to vote. It is a much bigger issue than six of us running a campaign ahead of an election.”
Yet for now, it’s a full-time team of six young people who are running a massive advertising campaign and raising awareness through countless channels.
“And we are reaching more young people than any other of the main political parties,” she said.
Register to vote with Vote For Your Future HERE