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How Low Millennial Turnout Could Swing UK Vote To Brexit

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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If young voters fail to turn up to the polls, the United Kingdom could wrench itself out of the European Union June 23.

Whether or not the U.K. opts for Brexit could depend on a generational divide and willingness to show up to the polls, according to the Press Association (PA).

The polls have shifted in favor of Brexit in recent weeks with one showing a massive 10 point lead for the “Leave” campaign. While the Leave campaign enjoys support from older voters, the “Remain” campaign has a decisive advantage among young voters.

PA analysis concludes that if 18-24 year olds turnout in the same numbers they did in the 2015 general election — just four in 10 voted — there’s a strong chance of Brexit. More than three-quarters of people aged 55 voted in 2015.

“If turnout on June 23 is just two percentage points higher among voters aged 55 and over, the projection changes to a narrow victory for Leave. A one-point rise in turnout among 18-24 year-olds tilts the result narrowly towards Remain,” said PA via email.

“If turnout among 18-24 and 25-34 year-olds drops by just three percentage points compared with the general election, and all other figures remain the same, the projection changes to Leave 50.2 percent, Remain 49.8 percent.”

But if turnout among those two age groups climbs just two percentage points, with all other figures unchanged, Remain would win the narrowest of victories at 50.2.

According to data from the Electoral Reform Society (ERS), 47 percent of 18-24 year olds said they would definitely vote but the figure for those aged 65 and older was 80 percent.

“Around four million 18-24-year-olds are unregistered. We need extra efforts to encourage them to sign up in colleges, universities and workplaces across the country,” said Darren Hughes, deputy chief executive of ERS.

“This referendum shouldn’t be decided by one generation on behalf of another – this is a vital national conversation that needs to involve everyone, not just older voters.”

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