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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 December 2006, 08:44 GMT
Voter apathy
Brian Meechan
Brian Meechan
The Politics Show Wales

Polling booth
What if voting was to be made compulsory?
Voter apathy in any election can be a huge hurdle to surmount. But the Welsh Assembly think they have a new way of enticing the voter to the ballot box...

More needs to be done to encourage people to vote according to Assembly Members.

The Local Government Committee is making 33 recommendations in their report into improving election turnout.

They range from better education about politics to introducing new ways of voting, and even popping down to your local supermarket to cast your ballot.

At the last Assembly election, just over 38% of the electorate cast their ballot.

That was down on 1999's already disappointing 46%.

Every little helps...

Ballot box
Another type of box in a supermarket?

The committee believes using alternative polling stations, including supermarkets, could play a part in combating apathy.

The AMs also want facilities improved for people with disabilities.

Dr. Karin Wahl-Jorgensen from Cardiff University says the issue is much bigger than simply being about access.

"There is a small number for whom having greater access will make a difference and there will be a shift in numbers there.

"But for the majority, the big problem is that they don't see what difference voting makes.

"They don't see a difference between the parties. They don't see how politics can improve their lives."

Education, education, education...

Person with ballot paper
The shopping list of candidates

The Isle of Man has just lowered the voting age to 16. The Assembly's local government committee wants to encourage younger people to vote but didn't go that far. AMs did say there was a need for a vast improvement in political education in schools.

The Liberal Democrat leader in the Assembly, Mike German, was a member of the committee.

"I don't think we have political consensus for voting at 16. We believe that the voting age should be 16, but that isn't the total answer without better education in our schools."

Election turnout has been on the slide since the 1960's across western democracies.

Turning that around has been a challenge many politicians have taken on but with only limited success.

The Politics Show

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Join the Politics Show team on Sunday 10 December 2006 at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.

This is the last Politics Show for the autumn series - we return again on Sunday 14 January 2007, 12:00 GMT- in the meantime, from us all... have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

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Politics from around the UK...

Previous stories...

Young voters
17 Nov 06 |  Politics Show
Commission targeting young voters
02 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
Young voters have 'lost faith'
22 Apr 03 |  Nottinghamshire
11 Sep 05 |  Politics Show

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