Annabelle Dickson, Political Editor
Friday, April 4, 2014
Celebrities could play a positive role in getting more people out to vote, a University of East Anglia expert has told MPs.
Toby James, a lecturer in British and comparative politics, was asked by a select committee about how more voters could be engaged.
Questioned on the benefit of celebrities encouraging people to vote by Labour MP Chris Ruane, who said it should not be left to comedian Russell Brand, who recently said that people should not vote, Dr James said that celebrities had the potential to have a very positive affect.
He said: “My colleague at the UEA has written a lot about the affect that celebrities can have on politician. They shouldn’t be looked past and could really engage with the electorate and entice the electorate to get involved.
He added; “If you look at the US in 2008 presidential election, you saw a lot of the celebrities being part of high profile adverts there to go out and vote, the likes of Harrison Ford and everyone else. I am not aware of particular evidence and studies that have tested that affect, but intuitively it could be something worth certainly looking at.”
He also said, when questioned on the best day to vote that there was “clear evidence” that if you did change the day of an election, it would bring about an increase in turnout.
“Once study looks at European elections across the whole of Europe and where the vote was on a Sunday, as opposed to a week day, the vote was 10pc higher,” he added.