chapter  15
15 Pages

Electoral engineering and surveillance

British young people and politics

In Britain, many young people are disengaging from formal electoral politics while increasing their participation in political activism. Data collected reveals that many young people feel disconnected from formal political processes. This chapter considers whether electoral engineering methods – designed to persuade or compel young people to vote – can be understood as a form of political surveillance. While age-specific compulsory voting may increase the numbers of young voters, it may have negative consequences. If young people are to be encouraged to participate in formal politics, the onus is on political elites to consider how democratic participation can be made more meaningful for young people. ‘Youth politics’ and young people’s withdrawal from electoral participation has become a major concern for states that prioritise security. In this context, the chapter suggests there is value in seeing these debates as an opportunity for reflection on the long-standing relationship between the social sciences and modern state.