Election lessons from the Philippines?

Last Thursday local and national elections took place on the same day in the UK. Today the same thing is happening in The Philippines. You’d be hard-pressed to figure out which one is the developing nation, however. In the UK voters did their democratic duty in wooden booths with a pencil and paper and got locked out in the street when the polling stations were overwhelmed. In the Philippines, however, voters are using brand-new touch screen systems to cast their votes. And, if technical hitches threaten to deny people their democratic right, it’s been promised that the polling stations will stay open. Who’d have thunk it?

    1. I was shocked to learn that young and first-time voters were among those being turned away from polling stations on Thursday.

      In Sheffield, students complained that they were denied the right to vote because of a decision to segregate student voters from other members of the public, via a separate slower moving queue.

      The British Youth Council (a UK wide charity run by young people for young people) has been working for over 60 years to help young people engage in democracy and have their say.

      What message does denying people the right to vote send to first time and younger voters? It’s bad enough that young people are frequently portrayed as being apathetic and disinterested in politics, without those of us who do make the effort to prove the doubters wrong, being turned away at the ballot box!

      In the run up to election at the British Youth Council, we had been calling on young people to use their vote to make a difference. But if young people feel that their votes are less important than the votes of older people, not only will their interest in voting at public elections decrease, but the lack of trust in the democratic system felt by many young people will be reinforced.

      We have produced a General Election Manifesto developed by young people around the country outlining five key actions we want the next government to take. http://www.byc.org.uk/gec If you agree with what you see please pledge your support online.

      Alex Delaney (26 years)
      Chair of the British Youth Council

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