Voter Turnout: What The Numbers Tell Us About The 2015 General Election


The 2015 General Election represents one of the largest figures in terms of voter turnout in recent years, with 66.1% of the electorate voting compared to 65% in 2010 and 61% in 2005. However, the voting rate varied dramatically across the country – from 80% in some Scottish constituencies compared to under 50% in some areas of Northern England.

There was high voter turnout in many areas of Scotland, including turnout of over 80% in the seats of Dumbartonshire and Renfrewshire East, both of which were SNP gains from Labour. This could suggest a renewed interest in politics following the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, which changed the dynamic of political debate in Scotland. One reason why the referendum has been viewed by many as a catalyst for increasing political engagement in the country could be the increase in devolved power promised to Scotland by the then three main Westminster parties, which Nicola Sturgeon described as a ‘priority’ needed to grow the Scottish economy and lift people out of poverty.

Contrastingly, the seat with the lowest voter turnout in the UK was Manchester Central, branded ‘Apathy Central’ by some sections of the media, where Labour MP, and vice-chair of the general election campaign, Lucy Powell was voted in for another term by just 46% of the electorate. The poor turnout has been linked by some to the high student and immigrant populations in the constituency, though interviews with voters there have shown many to be apathetic and frustrated that more hasn’t been done to help Powell was first elected through a by-election in the constituency in 2012 with a voter turnout of 18%, which is thought to be the lowest on record.

As for the local picture, turnout in Southampton was slightly below the national average, with a figure of 62.1% in Southampton Test. This represents an increase from the 61.4% turnout that was recorded in the 2010 election.

The number of young voters aged between 18 and 24 has also increased. According to the British Electoral Study, almost 60% of young people voted in this election, although polling from YouGov prior to the event suggested that 69% of young people were “absolutely certain” that they were going to vote on the day.

Despite the increasing number of voters, some are still calling for the introduction of a ‘none of the above’ option on the ballot paper, as calculations have revealed that the so-called ‘apathy party’  would still hold a larger number of seats than any existing organisation if ‘none of the above’ was an official and legitimate option. The map shown here shows how many constituencies would be held by the so called apathy party if it could be chosen as an option by voters.

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Deputy Editor 2017-18, International Editor 2015-17. Languages graduate interested in Latin America, world news, media and politics.

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