The referendum is on Thursday 23 June, while the deadline to register to vote for it is just a few days away on Tuesday 7 June.
Most of the young people working in the tech community were not born the last time the country faced such a massive question.
Clearly many young people (and adults alike) feel disenfranchised from politics and feel ignored by the way the debate around whether we should leave the EU is progressing.
Both sides are addressing most of their arguments to older voters who are more likely to turn out and vote and have not made this referendum real enough for most of us, especially young people and marginalised communities. That is a mistake. No one should feel excluded when it comes to a question of this much importance to our nation’s future wealth and stability.
Our tech community is nothing if it is not about fixing things that are broken, making things work better and innovating to improve our daily lives. There are over 7.5 million people missing from the electoral roll and there is a short window of time to make sure that those voices are heard on June 23rd, when the referendum takes place.
Tech companies large and small are coming together with their typically brilliant and creative ideas to get behind this massive push for voter registration. The campaign is led by Bite the Ballot, our fantastic street-wise charity that comes up with unconventional campaigns to get young people registered and engaged into politics.
As part of Bite The Ballot’s #TurnUp campaign, tech companies are running a week of events from 31 May to deadline day on the 7 June, aiming to get one million more people on the registration list.
Deliveroo, Tinder, Uber, Twitter, The LAD Bible, The Student Room, Zoopla and many more of the UK’s biggest tech companies are getting behind this campaign. They will urge their users, their customers and employees to make their vote count and ensure they are registered.
In the time it takes to order a beer on a Friday night, you can sign up to vote here. There’s a thousand people a minute signing up right now, but it’s still not enough. Turnout is critical in this referendum and polling shows that under 25s are twice as likely not to be on the electoral register than the wider population and even more unlikely to turnout to vote.
According to the Electoral Commission 30 percent of under 25s are not on the register. Of those who are registered just over half voted in the 2015 general election, with under 25s half as likely to vote as those aged over 65, according to a survey of 1,300 18 to 30 year olds.
It’s easy to argue that the Remain and Leave camps are making arguments that do not inspire young people to vote. Perhaps when you feel shut out of the housing market, are working three jobs to make ends meet and are uncertain that you’ll ever find work in the profession you dreamed of, debates about sovereignty and future GDP growth seem irrelevant to your life as you live it.
But the tech community in particular has a responsibility to wake people up to the now or never timing of this question, because the clock is ticking. And thanks to digital registration, people can make sure they have a vote around the clock.
So if you’re in a bar and it’s late and you’re waiting for an Uber to arrive, you will receive a prompt to vote, taking you straight to the voter registration url.
Or when you turn to Facebook while on the commute home, you will see people sharing their “I registered” status, reminding you that you still need to register.
Young people get a bad name for being apathetic and responding only to hashtag activism. But the under-35s most of us know are resourceful and hardworking.
Increasingly, they realise they can change the things they care about. Governments and City Halls are not untouchable entities. Countries are more than just collections of buildings, criss-crossed with roads and railway lines. A nation is a network of opinion, knowledge, emotion and experience.
Young people eat, sleep and breathe networks. They have invested in them with time and emotion. Tech companies have created networks and platforms which have allowed amazing new things – businesses, learning, communities – to flourish.
Now is the time to use those networks and platforms for a crucial social purpose. For once ferocious competitors have put aside their rivalries to work together for the greater good.
And if you need more reasons to #turnup, registering to vote puts you in control of your identity, improves your credit rating and ensures the UK has a representative jury service.
There’s a lot at stake. Now that’s worth following. #turnup
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