By group editor Nicola Priest HOW do you solve a problem like voter apathy among young people? I was interested to read about one Cheshire councillor’s idea to make it compulsory for a year. It is an interesting concept.

The councillor was naturally concerned that when the biggest change to our voting system starts next year – with individual electoral registration and people then responsible for registering to vote online – it is estimated that around a third of the electorate won’t bother.

Most of the public who are already on the electoral register will be fine.

But young people, those at university or away from home will have to want to get involved.

It is likely to have a serious effect on General Election results.

Under the new scheme, it is estimated that some 10 million or more voters will no longer be on the electoral register.

That’s where the idea comes in – to make voting compulsory for a year for all 18-year-olds. Although this would undoubtedly help with bigger turnouts than some of the woeful numbers we have at present, I’m not sure I agree that making it compulsory is necessarily right.

There is likely to be registration drives in universities and colleges to get young people interested, but will that be enough?

Making people do something they are unwilling to take part in is unlikely to have the impact we want, which is for young people to take an interest in politics.

I find it depressing that so many young people are simply not interested in voting.

If the new system means that many of our young people will not vote then the future of British democracy is at risk.

How can politicians truly represent a country if certain age groups or particular demographics are not represented?

The fact that women died to get us the vote should be enough, as far as I’m concerned, to make us want to spend a few minutes of our time making that decision.

I hate it when people say to me, ‘well I don’t know who to vote for, or ‘they’re all the same’.

So make it your business to find out what they stand for and their policies. People are far too quick to say that politics is boring when it impacts on so many areas of our lives.

We might find the Government, politicians and even local councillors annoying, frustrating and completely off their heads but we do have some influence on them through our votes.

If the mainstream politicans do nothing for you there are plenty of smaller parties or independents around to support.

And if General Elections don’t get people off their bums and into polling stations then local elections are even worse.

It’s been said that the new system will favour the Tories and certainly the Labour party has argued against it.

But unless we can convince young people that registering to vote is their civic duty rather than a choice, then voting turnouts are likely to be disastrous.