The Unheard Third: Women Who Never Vote Explain Their Reasons

Photographed by Lauren Maccabee.
As the UK prepares to head to the polls on 12th December for its third general election in four years, all eyes will be on the young voter turnout.
Over 1.3 million people under the age of 35 have registered to vote since the election was called on 29th October – a 50% increase in voter registrations compared to the same period before the 2017 general election. Despite this, there is still an overwhelming number of people who don't vote.
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There are many reasons why someone would choose not to vote, including dissatisfaction, lack of interest or knowledge, or perhaps they can't or are not allowed to. But some don't vote because they feel their 'x' on the ballot slip would be wasted, either because they live in parliamentary constituencies considered to be 'safe' seats or they don't feel their vote would make a change.
Refinery29 reached out to young women across the UK who have never voted or who don't plan to vote in the upcoming general election to understand their reasons for not heading to the polls.
Here's what they had to say...
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Darryl is a 25-year-old from Hertfordshire.
Why have you never voted?
I’ve never voted because honestly I just don’t understand politics. It really goes completely over my head. I’ve tried my hardest to read up and try to make sense of it but it doesn’t work. I feel like if I don’t understand it then I shouldn’t have an opinion on it and vote. Whatever the outcome of who wins, the country always seems to end up in a mess regardless. If I’m totally honest, they just seem like a lying bunch of wankers to me who are in it for their own agendas and not for the sake of the country.
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Are you going to vote in this general election?
I haven’t decided on whether I will vote this year or not but as it stands, I don’t feel like my one vote will make a difference. I have registered to vote, but I haven't made up my mind yet – I registered purely for credit score reasons.
Why do you think your vote won't make a difference?
I think that because we're in such an awful state at the moment, a lot of people this time around will want to have their say who actually understand what's going on. Until I understand it all, I think I might have to take a step back. My eyes just start glazing over whenever someone tries to explain it to me. I sometimes think that I’m too far gone to start trying to understand now.

They just seem like a lying bunch of wankers to me who are in it for their own agendas and not for the sake of the country.

Darryl, 25
What are your thoughts on the current state of politics in the UK and do you feel you are represented?
God, it’s a mess but it’s no fault of my own. Brexit might not have happened if I actually went and voted so I don’t really feel in a position to start complaining. I really regret not putting my vote in to remain as things could have been so different and I realise now it was an incredibly selfish thing for me to do, especially for my potential children. I feel like as the younger generation we do all need to step up and make ourselves heard and our votes count.
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In the last year I have reflected a lot and reminded myself that women died for the right to vote and now here I am, casually disregarding the option I have like it doesn’t matter. I will try to do better in the future and have my say. I just first need to figure out what everything means.
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Dora, 27, lives in London and has voted before but isn't planning on heading to the polls in the general election.
You have voted before, why aren't you voting this time around?
I’ve never really had any trust or knowledge in politics so I’ve always felt uncomfortable making a final decision. I don't think there has been enough support or education on politics, especially for young people. It's kind of like, you're 18 and now it's a big bad world of politics and you're expected to know it all automatically. Most of the time people (and the majority of young people) are getting information from their parents, which can have an effect on who they vote for vs what they believe in.

I feel like we're constantly being sold dreams to win over votes in terms of the NHS and tuition fees. The plans are so wishy-washy.

DorA, 27
Politics is not winning me over currently. Seeing the news every day is like back and forth on who is doing what and who is promising what versus what is really happening, i.e. the NHS being privatised. I still feel like we can all vote and protest but the outcome will be no better – I feel unsure on who to vote for and if it will benefit this country and the next generation.
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Why don't you feel confident in the current state of politics?
I don’t feel entirely confident in the current state because I feel like we’re constantly being sold dreams to win over votes in terms of the NHS and tuition fees. I feel like the plans are so wishy-washy. How will NHS services be better if it's privatised or not and what will that mean for nurses and accessibility for low-income families? How will increasing stop and search help tackle knife crime? More services available for young people – how? In my line of work this kind of stuff is always being promised, yet more and more cuts are being made and fewer opportunities are being made available for kids and young people.
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Natasha, 40, lives in Surrey and has voted in the past but is not voting in this year's general election.
Why aren't you voting in this general election?
I don't believe that the most significant challenges inside the UK government can be resolved by voting, as that mechanism essentially feeds a machine that is not fit for purpose and can't be rebuilt from the inside.
Regardless of who wins the election, the constraints inside the system mean that every party leader elected is in relative terms powerless, and cannot deliver on promises made during election time.

How can we make a choice about who to lead the country off the back of pledges that a leader either can't or won't fulfil?

Natasha, 40
What is it about the current state of UK politics that you don't like?
I'm very concerned by the current process, and there are a lot of things which are problematic. Manifestos are one example. Our version of democracy requires the electorate to vote for a party based on a manifesto, which is very rarely implemented. It seems like a fundamental point, to my mind: how can we make a choice about who to lead the country off the back of pledges that a leader either can't or won't fulfil?
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If we have manifestos, they should be legally binding and any breach should trigger a legal process which allows the electorate to do one of several things, including hold another election. That could deter candidates from making bold pledges they know they can't keep to entice voters, and stick to legitimate promises they can manage. While that would help to make the process fairer, under the current political system that won't solve other underlying issues, which I believe can only be addressed by a different way of thinking and a different process altogether.
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Sophia, 21, lives in Essex and has voted in the past but is not voting in this year's general election.
Are you going to vote in this general election?
I most likely won’t vote in the upcoming election.
What are your reasons for never voting?
I don’t vote because it is a waste of time. All parties are full of empty promises. And I truly believe all politics is corrupt. 

I don't believe in the system. We ultimately are not free people in this world.

Sophia, 21
Why aren’t you going to vote in this general election?
I won’t be voting because I don’t believe in the system. We ultimately are not free people in this world.
What are your thoughts on the current state of politics in the UK and do you feel you are represented?
The current state of politics in the UK and the rest of the world is a shambles because [politicians] are all puppets for people higher up in power than them. I am not and will not be represented by any politician. That being said, I do feel as if the Green party and Labour party have some valid points.
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