Election 2015 Wales

Election 2015: Call goes out to Wales' first time voters

Ebun Bola-Shadipe
Image caption Ebun Bola-Shadipe says young people must 'get out and vote' if they want change

With one day to go until polling day, first time voters in Wales are being urged to turn out.

Across the UK, there are an estimated 3.3m people eligible to vote for the first time on 7 May.

Since last summer, the Electoral Commission has been working with student bodies and youth groups to encourage them to use their vote.

Traditionally, 18-24 years olds are least likely to turn out, with 44% making it to the ballot box at the 2010 general election.

A range of schemes have been launched to try and get young people more involved in politics, using apps, video blogging and social media campaigns.

Ebun Bola-Shadipe, Cardiff community engagement officer for Bite the Ballot, a not-for-profit movement encouraging young people to vote, said: "In Wales, there are approximately 298,000 18-24 year olds. Just imagine if they all went out and voted.

"Let's take the opportunity on Thursday to make a change, let's make sure we're represented and prove to decision-makers that we want more from our democracy.

"If young people in Wales want change then they need to get out and vote."


However, fears are mounting that turnout among young people will fall at this election, with changes to the way people register to vote meaning tens of thousands are missing from the electoral roll.

The Electoral Reform Society has warned that Wales is facing a "turnout time-bomb", calling for a "radical overhaul" of politics teaching in schools.

NUS Wales is planning a big campaign for 7 May to get its members out to vote.

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Media captionTara Edwards and Lyam England are divided on whether to vote on Thursday

Tara Edwards, 18, and Lyam England are eligible to vote for the first time on 7 May.

But while Lyam is determined to do so, Tara is not so sure.

The students at Coleg Sir Gar in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, debated the issue face to face.

"I don't really have that much of an interest in politics - I'm not sure what they're going on about half the time," Tara said.

"I feel like my vote would be a waste, so I'll leave it to people who know what they're talking about."


Tara said most of her friends will not vote either as they believe that politicians do not do enough to target them.

"I don't feel like I should have to go to them - they should come to me and get me interested.

"If they came to colleges and talked to groups of young people in a more informal and simple way, they'd get more young people on board."

Lyam, on the other hand, thinks it is "really important to have a voice".

"As a young person we have to remember that we're the future. It may be old people who vote the most, but it will be us who experience what they vote for."

He believes first time voters should "stand up, take some responsibility for our country and go out there and vote."

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