PUBLIC SECT0R: Commission bids to attract young voters

The Electoral Commission is to target the young in its latest attempt to counter voter apathy.

A campaign called Votes Are Power runs from now until the local elections in May.

Specifically being targeted are 18 to 24-year-olds, the group that evidence shows are more willing to vote for reality TV programmes such as Pop Idol and Big Brother than in political elections.

Initiatives in the campaign include cards for those with 18th birthdays in the run-up to the local election. Also, the commission will be urging the young to register to vote via the internet or to vote by post.

Handling the campaign is the commission's in-house team, headed by director of media and PA Anne Hinds with support from Kazoo, the youth specialist PR agency.

Media and campaigns manager Andrew Nye, to whom the Kazoo team report, said this was the start of a series of campaigns aimed at boosting interest in the electoral system.

He said: 'Following this campaign we will have another project in autumn to coincide with the electoral register canvas. Then next year we will be targeting the regional parliaments and assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.'

Roland Glover, Kazoo associate director, said work for the campaign will include liaison with the National Union of Students and local and national media. Viral online activity is also promised.

The commission was set up in 2000 by Parliament to oversee party and electoral funding and promote the electoral process.

The Votes Are Power campaign follows last year's general election turnout of 59 per cent, the worst since 1918.

Just under two thirds of young people failed to vote in the election, less than the number of the same age group who voted during the second series of Big Brother.

Also, more people voted in the final of Pop Idol than for the Liberal Democrats at the last general election.

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