Page last updated at 03:22 GMT, Saturday, 13 March 2010

Scout Association urging young people to vote

Ballot counting
Many people may find themselves unable to vote come polling day

The Scout Association has launched a campaign to encourage young people to vote, amid fears that over half may not be on the electoral roll.

This year around 10,000 scouts will be old enough to vote for the first time in a general election.

The association has set up a website to encourage them and others to do so.

Earlier this month, the Electoral Commission found that 56% of those aged between 17 and 24 in eight selected areas were not registered to vote.

The Scout Association's Active Citizen website explains why politics matters to young people, alongside advice on registering and volunteering and a includes a forum for politicians to take part in online discussions with young voters.

The association is also sending information by post to 50,000 members in an attempt to boost turnout.

'Engage in democracy'

Wayne Bulpitt, The Scout Association's UK chief commissioner said: "In scouting we believe it is extremely important for young people to engage in democracy. Every vote counts.

"We not only want our young members to see why they should vote but how politics impacts on the causes and concerns that they have."

The campaign's launch marks the 40th anniversary of the first Parliamentary election - a by-election in Bridgwater, Somerset - after the voting age had been lowered from 21 to 18,

To mark the occasion, 30 young people are being brought together in Nottingham with their local candidates in an event co-hosted by Oxfam and the Hansard Society.

People must be on the local electoral roll if they want to vote in the upcoming general election, widely expected to be held on 6 May.

They can register to vote from the age of 16, although they will not be able to actually vote until they are 18.

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