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Missing voices: National project launched to learn why people don’t vote

Missing voices: National project launched to learn why people don’t vote Time for all of Wales to be heard, says ERS Cymru

A project to spearhead a national conversation with people throughout Wales about voting, barriers to voting, and non-voters’ views on politics is being launched today.

‘Missing voices’ will find out how people feel about politics in Wales and why so many people still don’t vote.

The project will use a variety of methods, such as an online surveys, online group chats, face to face focus groups, as well as getting out and talking to people on the street.

Wales’ leading pro-democracy organisation, ERS Cymru, has joined forces with the Electoral Commission, NUS Wales, Cymorth Cymru, Llamau, RNIB Cymru, ProMo-Cymru, Chwarae Teg, the Welsh Government, the National Assembly for Wales, WISERD, Citizens Advice, Open Government Network Wales and the Swansea Council for Voluntary Services on the project, which aims to talk to as many people as possible over the next few months. The findings of the project will be reported in the autumn.

The launch comes ahead of Wales receiving powers over elections in spring 2018 following the Wales Act’s passing earlier this year.

Jess Blair, ERS Cymru Director, said:

“We are in an age of fundamental change which will affect every single person in the country.

“The recent General Election in June saw a three percent rise in turnout in Wales from 2015 and reports suggest that includes a significant peak for young voters. Yet despite this increase, there are thousands of people in our society who have no voice on any major decisions that are being made on their lives and we need to find out why.

“That’s why ERS Cymru and our partners have launched ‘Missing voices’ today. The project will engage directly with people who sporadically vote or maybe have never voted before in their lives so that we can understand what needs to be done to make politics more relevant and more engaging. The information we collect will enable us to find a way to break down barriers that stop people voting and get thousands of missing voices in Wales heard.”

NUS Wales Deputy President Carmen Smith added:

“Some people think that young people and students aren’t interested in politics, but that is not true. The truth is that we care deeply about the decisions that politicians make, and we want them to listen to us. The EU Referendum and this year’s General Election proved that. Our vision for Wales is of a fair, welcoming, and inclusive country, where young people’s views are valued by decision-makers.

“We want our young people and students to be active citizens, and to feel that they have an important contribution to make to society. That’s why we’re really pleased to be working with ERS Cymru and partners on the ‘Missing Voices’ project. I hope that, as a result, we will have a better understanding of how the political system can be made more engaging and accessible to our young people.”

Emma Sands, RNIB Cymru’s Public Affairs Manager also added:

“We know that every time an election is called, blind and partially sighted people get in touch with us worried about how they are going to vote. Many people have moved to postal voting, but often this isn’t accessible for secret voting either. We know that many people aren’t confident in being able to vote in secret at a polling station and what we just don’t know is if this means that on the day, people actually don’t turn out.

“The opportunity to ask people across Wales about the barriers to voting and how we can overcome this is why we’re really pleased to be working on ‘Missing Voices’. We are delighted to support this project and hope we can improve the situation for future elections.”