Bishop of St Albans asks about grassroots engagement to improve voter turnout

On 12th May 2016 Lord Kinnock asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to emphasise the importance to citizens, particularly young people, of registering to vote to enable them to participate in the referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union on 23 June.” The Bishop of St Albans asked a follow up question: 

St Albans 2The Lord Bishop of St Albans: In response to a previous debate, I worked with Bite The Ballot and got it into one of our church schools. The interesting thing for me was seeing not that people could not understand voting but that they did not know what difference it would make. Watching young people being taken through the process and the penny drop about the implications was fundamental. It seems to me that we need people to engage at the grassroots. What attempt is being made to use voluntary and charitable organisations, many of which—including the churches—have newspapers and all sorts of other publications and are in touch with millions of people, as a way of trying to raise the issue in the next month, as the noble Lord asked?

Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen: Indeed, and that is exactly why we have been giving grants to civic societies to engage with the young. There have been several initiatives, one of which was the Make your Mark ballot: nearly 1 million young people aged 11 to 18 took part in deciding on issues such as mental health, the living wage and tackling religious discrimination. It is now statutory to teach democratic participation in schools at key stages 3 and 4 of the curriculum.