Uber to push young voters to the polls

Stock photo of an Uber sign.  Uber launches the first electric cars in London today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday 30 August, 2016. Photo credit should read: Laura Dale/PA Wire

Uber will be encouraging young people to register to vote this week by directing customers to the official voter registration page via their smartphones.

From Friday, the taxi-hailing app will show British customers who are waiting for their cab to pick them up a link through to the voter registration website, and will urge them "not to be a passenger in this election".

The campaign will last three days, and has been organised by Bite The Ballot – an organisation that seeks to involve young people in politics by engaging with them "on platforms they feel comfortable with".

The group is also set to stage a takeover of Twitter's UK account on Monday – the deadline for voter registration. Users will be targeted with an array of registration materials and information on their constituencies through the social media platform.

Bite The Ballot's campaign isn't the only political initiative Uber has involved itself in. Last year, the ride-hailing app teamed up with Google to help US customers locate and order rides to their polling stations for the presidential election.

Analysis in the UK has revealed the number of 16- and 17-year-olds on the electoral roll had dropped by 27 per cent over the past three years, prompting the Electoral Reform Society to warn of a "ticking timebomb" in voter registration.

Stephen Fisher, a professor of political sociology at Oxford University, told The Times: "This data suggests primarily that many of last year's 17-year-olds, now this year's 18-year-olds, are in danger of not being registered. This does sound quite worrying from a political participation perspective."

The introduction of individual electoral registration in 2014 is believed to be partly responsible for this decline, as parents or guardians of teens approaching voting age can no longer register those children on their behalf.
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