Elections are a central component of democratic societies. This section includes resources and case studies related to improving youth participation in elections. It is important to note that programs should support youth in engaging in the full electoral cycle, including the pre- and post-electoral periods.
Young people between the ages of 15 and 25 constitute a fifth of the world’s population. While they are often involved in informal, politically relevant processes, such as activism or civic engagement, they are not formally represented in national political institutions such as parliaments and many of them do not participate in elections. This can impact on the quality of democratic governance. Drawing on an intensive desk review of reports and analysis from around the world as well as interviews and focus group discussions with youth development practitioners and young people themselves, this guide discusses best practices for supporting youth political participation and 21 possible entry points for UNDP and other organizations involved in assisting youth political participation. Case studies appear in Part B of this guide, following an introductory section, and a review and analysis. The review starts with a discussion of legal frameworks, and then considers entry points for support in cooperation with different electoral stakeholders in the pre-electoral, electoral and post-electoral periods.
Specifically designed for electoral management bodies (EMBs), this publication acknowledges the crucial role EMBs play in ensuring that all segments of the society, including youth, are empowered to fully participate in the electoral process, be as voters, candidates or officials. The handbook provides strategies and entry points to assist EMBs in removing existing barriers for youth electoral participation at different levels and in different areas, including the national legal and political framework and youth’s lack of confidence in national institutions. The publication also explores how EMBs could capitalize on innovative solutions to make electoral processes more inclusive and peaceful and to prevent youth from being incited to electoral violence by political parties. Finally, the handbook links these objectives to the outcomes and indicators of SDGs, in particular Goal 16. The handbook is published by the Brussels-based EC-UNDP Joint Task Force on Electoral Assistance (JTF) and made possible thanks to the support of the UNDP Nepal Electoral Support Project, generously funded by the EU, Norway, the United Kingdom and Denmark.
The youth generation in Africa is booming, with one-third of the population aged between 15 and 35. At the same time, youth tend to be disengaged from the democratic process. Young people vote less frequently, stand as candidates less often and remain underrepresented in electoral managerial functions. Electoral management bodies (EMBs) in Africa play a critical role in promoting youth participation in electoral processes. EMBs should develop creative strategies for youth inclusion and engagement. The experiences of EMBs already pushing this agenda should be shared among the community of practitioners. For EMBs that have not yet fully engaged, these success stories may serve as an important source of inspiration for initiatives that fit their historical contexts.
This article highlights a success story from a project implemented by the National Democratic Institute to support young Kyrgyz political activists in using social media as a tool for a Get Out The Vote campaign ahead of Kyrgyzstan's 2017 presidential election. This is an example of a youth-led initiative that succeeded in getting people, and youth in particular, engaged in the electoral process. Voter turnout in the 2017 presidential election was higher among young people (those aged 18-29) than in any other age group. The total number of young voters also increased by approximately five percent compared with the 2015 parliamentary elections.