Did you vote in the last election? Maybe you vote in a general election but not a Welsh election? Or, maybe you used to vote but don’t anymore?

Your voice is as important as everyone elses, but if you don’t vote it won’t be heard. You’ve probably heard that said a lot. But has anyone asked you why you don’t vote?

Chwarae Teg is supporting the Electoral Reform Society to launch a project to start a national conversation with people throughout Wales about voting, barriers to voting, and non-voters’ views on politics.

‘Missing voices’ will find out how people feel about politics in Wales and why so many people still don’t vote.

The project will use a variety of methods, such as an online surveys, online group chats, face to face focus groups, as well as getting out and talking to people on the street.

If you don’t always vote and would like to tell us why, you can take part in the online survey here. Or join us for an online Facebook discussion on 15th August at 12:30pm, or 16th August at 6pm. Please email Natasha.davies@chwaraeteg.com if you’d like to take part.

As well as Chwarae Teg, ERS Cymru will be working with a number of other partners in order to talk to as many people as possible, including NUS Wales, Cymorth Cymru, Llamau, RNIB Cymru, ProMo-Cymru, the Welsh Government, the National Assembly for Wales, Citizens Advice, Open Government Network Wales and the Swansea Council for Voluntary Services.

The findings of the project will be reported in the autumn.

The launch comes ahead of Wales receiving powers over elections in spring 2018 following the Wales Act’s passing earlier this year.

Jess Blair, ERS Cymru Director, said:

“We are in an age of fundamental change which will affect every single person in the country.

“The recent General Election in June saw a three percent rise in turnout in Wales from 2015 and reports suggest that includes a significant peak for young voters. Yet despite this increase there are thousands of people in our society who have no voice on any major decisions that are being made on their lives and we need to find out why.

“That’s why ERS Cymru and our partners have launched ‘Missing voices’ today. The project will engage directly with people who sporadically vote or maybe have never voted before in their lives so that we can understand what needs to be done to make politics more relevant and more engaging. The information we collect will enable us to find a way to break down barriers that stop people voting and get thousands of missing voices in Wales heard.”

Natasha Davies, Policy and Research Lead at Chwarae Teg added:

‘We know that many Government decisions have a different impact on women than they do men. If women’s voices are not heard as part of an election, it’s likely that they will continue to be overlooked as important decisions are made.

‘Ahead of June 8th, young women were among the most undecided groups of voters. It’s crucial that we understand the reasons for this, and continue to engage women with the election process and political world, in order to ensure their voices and needs are considered in the future.’