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Weekly launches pre-election bid to get more readers to vote

A weekly newspaper has launched a campaign urging its readers to register to vote ahead of next month’s election.

The Kilmarnock Standard issued the plea after reporting that there were more non-voters in Kilmarnock and Loudoun than the majority of the constituency’s 2017 winner, the Scottish National Party’s Alan Brown.

The figures were revealed after an investigation by David Ottewell, head of data journalism at Standard owner Reach plc.

The ‘Your Vote Counts’ campaign has already won the backing of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, and her support featured on the paper’s front page last Wednesday.

Kilmarnock Voice Counts

Reporter Tara Fitzpatrick told HTFP: “We decided as a local paper we had a duty to do our bit to advocate the value of registering to vote for December’s election. Given the winter weather, short notice and general ‘political fatigue’ surrounding the debate we believed a boost was needed to get readers engaged.

“We reported that there were more non-voters in Kilmarnock and Loudoun than the majority of 2017 winner Alan Brown of the SNP (these figures were revealed by Reach data journalist David Ottewell) – this is a trend which is reflected across the country and clearly indicates how much power non-voters hold.

“Each week we have been printing opinion columns and step-by-step guides for readers on how to register for a vote at the ballot box, or via postal vote.

“We spoke with students at Ayrshire College who gave us their backing as well as teenagers who would be casting their first vote this year. This week we also interviewed a 16-year-old and 17-year-old about how they feel to be denied a say in this general election as why they would urge those who are eligible to cast their vote.

“Having backing from Nicola Sturgeon is a great way to boost the profile of the campaign and will hopefully emphasise to readers just how important their vote is.”

Ms Sturgeon told the Standard: “This election is absolutely crucial in determining Scotland’s future, which is why it is essential that people ensure that they are registered to vote.

I would urge everyone to take steps to make sure they are on the electoral register and are able to cast their vote by post or in person at the ballot box on 12 December.”