Five reasons why being a first time voter is so important

by - Monday, April 06, 2015

Image courtesy of The Telegraph

I'll admit it - I'm mega excited for the general election. As someone who will be turning 22 just four days after May 7th, this is my very first chance to genuinely affect the country in which I live and it's an opportunity I take very seriously, especially because of my age.

While it's really easy as a young person to get overwhelmed by politics or assume that your vote 'doesn't matter anyway', it's really important to remember that if everybody had that mentality, no change would ever occur and we'd be left, stagnating as the more extreme parties grow and take advantage of the apathy of the majority. Still not convinced? Here are five reasons why I think it's absolutely imperative that you take advantage of your right to vote.

Other people aren't so lucky
It's a rhetoric we've all heard so many times before, but it really is true. Just last week in Nigeria, the people of that country rose up and managed to eject an incumbent president, something that simply wouldn't have been conceivable 25 years ago. Looking further back in this country, it wasn't until 1928 that women over 21 were allowed to have a voice. Think about the silence of the people before us, and do what they couldn't - speak up for yourself.

It's your way of expressing what you don't want as well as what you do 
While this post is in no way about pushing my preferred party upon anyone, I'd like to think that anybody who regularly reads my blog will agree with me that the idea of a government in which UKIP have seats is a fairly abhorrent concept. Don't like UKIP? It's simple - vote for a different party! Extreme right and left parties gain popularity by recruiting floating voters, or taking advantage of the fact that people with extreme views often tun out to vote much more than those with more centralised opinions. Considering voting for a central party but don't think it will make a difference? It really will.

It connects you with society and improves social education
In the Facebook age, it's easy to forget that you have a responsibility to impact the environment and the people around you. Change only comes about by giving a crap, and it's simply not good enough in this day and age to walk around with no understanding of how government works or why it matters. As a first time voter, this is your opportunity to educate yourself, form opinions and place your vote confident that you understand the issues at hand.

You're voting for the next five years, not just now
Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but your life between the years of 18-23 is likely to change much more than it will between the ages of say, 32-37. You might want to go to university, get your first full time job, take that first step on the property ladder. It's important to think about these ambitions when you cast your vote, as the party you aline with will make a huge difference in how easy or difficult it is to achieve these things on a sensible budget.

If young people never vote, why should politicians work to win us over?
As it stands, young person voter turnout is low. The brutal truth is that politicians work to get as many votes as possible, by targeting their issues towards an age-group who they know are likely to turn up on polling day, namely those aged 40 plus. Unless we young people start speaking up, no party has any real incentive to offer us any sort of policy that might work in our favour, simply because they don't think it's likely to help them win an election. Voting on polling day is the one way of showing them that this simply isn't true.

Are you planning on voting in the general election? If not, why not? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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