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NEW CAMPAIGN URGES VOTERS NOT TO TURN THEIR BACKS ON VOTING

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The Electoral Commission is urging young people not to turn their backs on voting in a striking advertising campaig...
The Electoral Commission is urging young people not to turn their backs on voting in a striking advertising campaign unveiled today. The poster and radio campaign 'Don't distance yourself' is running alongside the annual canvass to encourage every household in Britain to return their electoral registration form.

According to a recent MORI poll for the commission, only 83% young people and 88% ethnic communities were registered to vote, compared to 96% for the general population. The commission has targeted young people in particular, in its first campaign since taking over responsibility for voter awareness from the home office in July this year.

The poster and radio adverts aim to increase registration by portraying issues of social concern such as domestic violence, homelessness, street violence and drugs. The adverts aim to be thought-provoking, challenging people to consider their own role in their community and to have their say on issues that matter to them through the ballot box. This campaign builds on previous home office campaigns encouraging voters to 'Make your voice heard'.

Commission chairman Sam Younger comments: 'The commission wanted themes that would strike a chord with young people and wider society. Getting people on the electoral register is an important step in engaging them in the democratic process.' The campaign follows the lowest turnout for a general election since 1918, with 41% of the electorate not voting.

The posters will be displayed from September 17 at bus shelters in targeted London boroughs and on London Underground, with radio adverts on youth and ethnic radio stations running in tandem. Posters and radio adverts will run from September 24 in targeted areas across England, Scotland and Wales.

Targeted areas in England, Scotland and Wales include the top 25 areas with highest populations of 15-24 year olds, the top 10 areas for ethnic populations and London boroughs with greater than 30% ethnic communities.

Notes

1. The annual canvass is carried out every autumn by local authorities, who issue registration forms to every household in the United Kingdom. The forms should be completed to indicate where electors are living on 15 October. This new register is published on 1 December and forms the basis for rolling registration, whereby the electoral register is updated each month with new amendments.

2. A summary of the MORI survey is available on the commission's websiteand full details at www.mori.com/polls/2001/elec_comm.shtml

3. Populations figures were taken from census data and Mosaic database.

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