Thorpe Park encourages voter registration - by offering cheap tickets

May 22, 2017, 1:42 AM

With less than three weeks until the United Kingdom goes back to the polls for another general election, Thorpe Park this weekend launched a ticket offer with a difference - £20 tickets for anyone aged 18-24 who registers to vote.

The offer represents essentially £10 ($13) off a standard online ticket, or £32.50 ($42) off the gate price – the kind of offer you'd expect to see in the first couple of months of the season anyway. So any noble intentions aside, it's a savvy bit of headline-grabbing, and one that side-steps the slight desperation of headless monks, missing limbs and naked riders.

But it could in fact genuinely make a difference. Only 43 per cent of those aged 18-24 voted in the 2015 general election, lower than any other age bracket. And while the political landscape in the UK is definitely shifting, it is still widely accepted that younger voters are more likely to back opposition party Labour than the Conservatives – who are currently on track to a landslide victory and a return to government. (Not to mention that Thorpe Park is located in Surrey, a Conservative heartland.)

The deadline to register is midnight on May 22nd, with the offer valid through May 25th.

Replies (5)

Edited: May 22, 2017, 5:47 AM

Interesting that such a promotion would be illegal in the United States. When I started in newspapers, Domino's Pizza tried to offer free toppings to people who showed a voter registration card, but they were told to stop. It's illegal to offer people in the US any incentive to vote or to register to vote.

The justification is that such incentives are a form of bribing people to vote. But the prohibition also serves to suppress the vote - which is a huge thing in the United States. Those in power don't like changing the electorate too much, as those were the voters who voted them in!

Echoing Ben, though, congratulations to Thorpe for getting us to write about them without having to send a bunch of naked people on a coaster this time. Kudos.

May 22, 2017, 6:38 AM

^England does seem to have an obsession with naked people riding coasters...

Edited: May 22, 2017, 8:48 AM

While seemingly noble, I cannot agree with discounts for registering to vote. It serves to taint the electorate, and while some people claim that voting is a "right" or even an "obligation" or "civic duty", it is none of those. It is also unfair to those who are not eligible to vote like green card holders, resident aliens, visitors, citizens not of legal voting age, and those whose voting privileges have been revoked.

I do, however, feel that companies that celebrate the act of voting by offering discounts/freebies to those that can prove they have voted on election day or shortly thereafter, are far more noble and also extend to those who lack the privilege to vote. Thorpe Park's program here wreaks of electorate manipulation, much like the "Rock the Vote" campaigns that have obviously used the veil of a first time voter registration in an attempt to stack the electorate towards one political mindset.

May 22, 2017, 9:42 AM

I understand where you're coming from Russell. But the disengagement of young people from voting is a real concern here at the moment as it's taking a distinct downturn. Certainly this isn't the ideal solution - a more rigorous system of education and awareness would help, as Thorpe's own video demonstrates - but I think this step, imperfect as it might be, is a welcome start.

(I'd certainly agree that it would be fairer if it were rolled out to people of all ages though, and would avoid accusations of targeting certain demographics.)

This seems like a healthier effort than offering discounts for proof of an actual vote though - wouldn't that risk leading to people ticking candidates at random just to get the discount? At least this way, if people don't feel informed, they can still choose to stay home. But perhaps being on the register will encourage them to get informed.

May 22, 2017, 10:45 AM

"wouldn't that risk leading to people ticking candidates at random just to get the discount?"

Sure, but that's the argument many of these got out the vote efforts around the world maintain. They claim that your vote is important, but don't consider the consequences of in ill-informed electorate randomly casting ballots. However, registering to vote is not the same as voting. The "Rock the Vote" campaigns in the US increased voter rolls by 10-15% in some states/cities, but many of those new voters supposedly energized and excited to vote for their first time never went to the ballot box.

I've always considered voting as a privilege and take the act seriously. However, I understand others' malaise and disinterest in the process. I have actually gone to the ballot box to cast a fully blank ballot in the past as a demonstration of my dissatisfaction with all available choices, and feel that registering to vote is a commitment to making your voice heard on Election Day. People should not need encouragement to vote, and their failure to take on the responsibility and privilege of voting should have no standing in societal arguments. I would rather people NOT register than to put themselves on the rolls and not show up. I personally feel that voters should have to register for every election to demonstrate their commitment and engagement in the democratic process, and not simply show up on Election Day looking to cast a ballot for some politician/cause that most recently appealed to their sensibility.

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