Making sure you have a say gets Liam's vote

YOUNG people need to get registered and cast their votes to make sure politicians hear their voices, says the man charged with getting them involved in elections.

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Young people are being urged to get out and vote
Young people are being urged to get out and vote

Today is National Voter Registration Day, and between now and the independence referendum on September 18, Glasgow City Council will be working to get young people on the voters roll.

The referendum is the first time 16 and 17-year-olds will be eligible to vote, but only if they are registered.

Liam O'Hare, is the Youth Engagement Worker, aiming to increase the number of young people registered and who then turn out to vote.

He said: "If you are not registered to vote you are not listened to. Young people are the least likely to vote.

"The first step is young people need to be registered to improve their chances of being listened to.

"We have a unique situa-tion with the referendum taking place. It is a massive opportunity to engage with all sectors of society and go on a mass registration drive.

"Hopefully afterwards we can live in a Scotland that's more politically aware and engaged."

Mr O'Hare will be working with Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde councils and, in the coming months, will be visiting every secondary school in the areas.

The campaign is targeting not just teenagers but up to 24-year-olds as well.

Mr O'Hare is going to the universities in Glasgow, colleges in the west of Scot-land and also campaigning with the UK-wide Bite the Ballot campaign.

There is also a new drive to get people engaged because of historically low turnouts, with Glasgow's East End offering among the lowest turnouts in the country.

Lochend Community High School decided a few years ago to tackle the issue and try to get pupils involved from an early age.

Head of social studies Paula MacNicol set up a pilot programme of electoral education, with senior pupils encouraging classmates to register for the referendum.

Ms MacNicol said: "We ran a four-week programme of participation in democracy.

"The pupils ran mock campaigns, and the school held hustings and elections with first-year pupils with actual ballot boxes and voting booths.

"The winners were then elected to the pupil council."

Ms MacNicol added: "It is not about politicising them but getting them involved in the process and help increase voter numbers."

Anyone who is aged 16 or over on September 18 this year is eligible to vote in the referendum, but they must be registered by September 2.

For more details visit http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3433 or call the electoral Registration office on 0141 287 4444.

stewart.paterson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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