September 18, 2016
Here at AEGEE Election Observation, we spend lots of time proclaiming the need for a youth perspective on electoral processes. But what exactly is a youth perspective?
When we talk about a youth perspective, we do not mean an opinion, or even a considered argument. We mean a comprehensive judgment on the engagement of youth in electoral processes arrived at through primary and secondary research using a rigorous and best-in-class methodology.
This is exactly the methodology we are in the process of developing. The AEGEE Election Observation Core Team are working through a range of youth indicators to establish how best to measure youth engagement and participation in electoral processes.
We have used the time since our founding to investigate what works and what does not work. We have deployed 13 election observation missions, and on each one we have tested new aspects of our potential future methodology. As of 2016, we are moving towards the compilation of the authoritative text on the observation of youth in electoral processes. The final reports and quantified assessments from election observation missions conducted in accordance with this world-leading methodology will constitute the youth perspective we refer to.
This will be the youth perspective consulted by those seeking to engage young people in electoral processes. This will be the very spring from which initiatives seeking to engage young people in politics shall draw from. Through methodological rigour, we plan to provide the tools necessary for those seeking to take action.
Young people’s issues are best understood by young people. It is no surprise that the crisis of low youth participation in European elections continues whilst reformers lack a comprehensive understanding of youth in electoral processes. By providing that perspective, our work aspires to fill the missing link. This will equip reformers with the tools necessary to deal once and for all with inadequate levels of youth engagement in electoral processes.
This is why AEGEE Election Observation trains and deploys young people on election observation missions. It is why the Westminster Foundation for Democracy commended our work ’empowering young Europeans to make a direct personal contribution to democracy as election observers’.
To begin to answer how democracy might be made more responsive for young people, we reiterate our call for an academically sound methodology for the observation of youth engagement in electoral processes.
Ben Graham Jones
Strategic Communications Director, AEGEE Election ObservationAuthor : AEGEE Election Observation