With just days to go until the Euro elections, apathy and disillusion look like the real winners. Only 26% of people say they are certain to vote. When you look at young people, the picture is even worse – only 13% of 18-24 year olds say they will vote. The European Union plays a key role in setting policy in areas which particularly affect young people: just look at the debate around what the EU should do about youth unemployment. With so much at stake in the European elections, young people risk losing their chance to decide the future priorities of the EU. Europe-wide get out the vote campaigns have been trying every trick in the book to get people to the polling station: there’s a website, a hashtag, even a Pharrell lipsync video.

We know that it is a lack of information that holds back some people from voting. This is especially true at European elections: four out of five people say that they know little or nothing about how the EU works. A survey of young people in the UK last year found that 53% were unlikely to vote because they don’t know enough about the elections or the parties to make a choice. That’s why we created Vote Match (uk.votematch.eu), an online app which helps voters find the party that best represents their views in an election. Vote Match uses a short quiz format to make it easy to find out where the parties stand on the key issues in the election. We gave UK political parties the opportunity to explain their position on the issues, so the user gets the arguments for and against. Matches are tailored to the user based on the issues they have chosen as most important.

Vote Match Europe is running in 14 EU countries and has now reached almost 3 million people. We’ve seen from the version of Vote Match we ran for the 2010 general election that it has a real impact on participation. If people know more about what’s on offer, they are more likely to vote. Our survey showed that 5% of users decided to vote as a result of taking Vote Match.  If that result is replicated across Europe, that could mean an extra 150,000 people using their vote to change Europe’s future. The effect of informing users about the political choices they can make could be just as significant. Apps like Vote Match are particularly useful for users who are swing voters, or can’t decide between two parties. Vote Match doesn’t tell users how to vote, but the information it provides can help voters make an informed choice. In the fight against apathy, anything that makes it easier to understand the importance of the choices we make at the ballot box is worth a try.


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