The gap in voter turnout between young and older voters in the UK is the largest among all OECD countries. This has to change, and social media and new technologies must be at the forefront.
The main reasons young people do not turnout is the feeling that they don’t understand the differences between the parties, and they feel that all the parties are the same. In our report, Like, Share,Vote, Demos highlighted the ability of interactive and shareable vote match tools and online quizzes to help tackle these barriers by presenting users with a means of determining which party their views are most closely aligned with.
Across Europe, these tools have been shown to strengthen political engagement and increase voter turnout. The main Dutch voter advice application, Stemwijzer, was used 4.9 million times in their 2012 elections, while in Germany, the state-sponsored Wahl-O-Mat was used 13.3 million times. There are excellent tools already in the UK: the most well known being Vote Match, which was used 1.2 million times in 2010, as well as more recent tools Vote for Policies and I Side With.
But while many of these tools exist, none have been designed with an emphasis on a younger demographic (primarily 16 to 24 year olds) – both in terms of the issues it focuses on and its design features — who feel disengaged and uninspired by the political process. This is why we’ve developed Verto.
With Bite the Ballot leading on the design and promotion of Verto, with their exciting brand and links with young people through out the UK, Demos’ role has been to design the policy statements and party positions – and to ensure that Verto is fair, neutral and balanced. To do this we’ve sought the advice of academic experts, young people themselves and the seven main political parties contesting this election. This document explains in detail the process that we’ve undertaken and the decisions we made to design Verto.