After the surprise general election result was announced in the early hours of 9 June, people quickly started circulating – and celebrating – a claim that the youth turnout figure was 72%. Here's the thing: There was no substantial evidence of where that statistic came from.
On Tuesday polling firm Ipsos released new data that shows the total voter turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds was 54% – the highest it has been for 25 years.
Of those who registered to vote, 64% actually did. (The turnout among registered voters is usually regarded as the "official turnout" figure.)
According to Ipsos, this is how young voters distributed their vote: 62% voted for Labour, 27% voted Conservative, 5% voted Lib Dem, 2% voted for UKIP, and 4% voted for other parties.
Milly Rigby, one of five young people behind a pro-Labour online lobbying campaign called Bun the Tories, told BuzzFeed News the Ipsos figure was still "a huge breakthrough".
The group's aim was to encourage young people to get involved with politics, especially "hard to reach" young people outside of London, including those from marginalised and underrepresented minorities.
Rigby, a 26-year-old student from London, believes the internet played a significant part of youth engagement during the general election. "Memes are youth currency," she said. "The internet has offered our generation keys to a revolution. We have so much information at our fingertips – none of us involved in Bun the Tories have ever so much as done a PSHE class in politics."
A Labour supporter, she also said that policies promised by the party played a role in the turnout, and that the Conservative party and the media "underestimated this".
"Black culture and 'Black Twitter' has had a massive impact on how engaged young people are," she said. "We think that's been massively underplayed by the media."
She added: "This has actually wedged a bigger disconnect between young people and the mainstream because post-election they scrambled to write thinkpieces based off three tweets from someone from a middle-class [background]."
Bite the Ballot is a youth charity that has been hosting a series of events called DeCafe in coffee shops around the country to get young people thinking critically about politics.
Bite the Ballot director Kenny Imafidon told BuzzFeed News he was pleased, but not surprised, by the increased youth vote: "Despite what some commentators will tell you, young people have always been political." Imafidon says the 2017 snap general election inspired young people "to believe that they can help shape the agenda and affect change with their vote and this recent election result shows that".
He said the reason young people are now actively getting involved with politics is that "it is becoming something more normalised and younger people realise just how much of an impact it makes on our everyday lives".
Imafidon added: "This election saw respected figures like JME and Akala weighing in, which opened up politics to more young people who would have typically felt marginalised."
Victoria Sanusi is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Victoria Sanusi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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