Did you feel the earth move this year? The ‘Youthquake’ effect on voting

As we get ready to make the journey north to Blackpool for the 2018 AEA Conference we’ve been reminding ourselves of the issues that were on the agenda at last year’s conference in Brighton and looking at how the landscape has shifted within electoral services.

One issue that generated a lot of discussion last year was the role that social media plays in the voting experience for young people – this proved to be quite a hot topic. The general consensus of young people’s experience in exercising their democratic rights was not a positive one – so why is that? and what can be done to change this trend?

A lack of interest in politics is definitely not the reason; after all, the Oxford Dictionaries 2017 word of the year is ‘youthquake’, defined as “a significant cultural, political or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people”. In many countries, 2017 was a year of political change where young people tipped the balance of power, but why did they feel the need to tweet their disgruntlement with the voting process?

The pre-digital world is fast fading into the past – today, a 21-year-old voter has never known a world without Google and in just eight years’ time new voters will have never known a world without an iPhone, so it’s not a surprise that when these young voters are presented with a piece of paper and a pencil tied to a wall with a piece of string to cast their vote, they find it all a little disaffecting.

It appears that many aspects of the current voting process seem alien to them, from the registration process to voting day itself, so it’s easy to see why they would tweet about their voting experience in a negative manner. It takes time to build trust and confidence with unfamiliar procedures.

It’s easy to be reactive and look to correct misguided tweets, but maybe the answer is to look at how we engage with our young society prior to elections. The official recognition of ‘youthquake’ is proof that young people are definitely not apathetic or disengaged, as they are sometimes portrayed by older generations, and the fact that the youth turnout at the 2017 General Election was the highest since 1992 backs up the buzzword, but many seem to be somewhat disillusioned with party politics and simply don’t feel the connection that has characterised the voting habits of the UK of recent times.

In this tech rich world, those in control of the voting process perhaps need to be more proactive in their approach to the next generation. Whether it’s an iPhone or a pencil we use, what we need to be encouraging is our right to vote in our democracy and that’s always going to be something worth protecting.

2017 was quite a year for politics, both at home and abroad, and many things happened which seemed unlikely this time last year, but it’s the prospect of the unexpected that keeps us all on our toes. Can the world take another year of political change and intrigue? Of course it can!


Source: Did you feel the earth move this year? The ‘Youthquake’ effect on voting on Emerge//Secure

Our New Website and Why We Love It

We’re excited to announce that our new, hugely revamped, website is live. The updated site has been re-thought from the ground up to make it easier to understand the scope of our business offerings and to help you find the sector of our business you require.

It boasts a new, contemporary look, structural changes and a whole host of smaller but impactful changes, all of which will make your experience easier and more enjoyable.

We started by thinking about our potential audiences and how they might want to find things on the site. In other words, we tried to view the website from their perspective rather than our own. This helped us to structure and write our content.

We thought how we could create the easiest navigation possible, given the scope of our business offerings.

We’ve used page animations and smooth scrolling to make viewing the site a nicer experience and work better on small devices. We have tried to create an ‘app-like’ experience.

We have built context specific contact forms into each section to help those wishing to get in touch with us and to help us help them more effectively.

All in all, we are very happy with the outcome and hope that you are too. Of course, we recognise that it is also a work in progress as all websites are, so we will continue to look for ways to improve it. We welcome any feedback.


Source: Our New Website and Why We Love It on Emerge//Secure

Peter Ellis joins The Bank of England’s Decision Making Panel

Smith & Ouzman’s Finance Director Peter Ellis has been confirmed as a member of the Bank of England Decision Maker Panel for Brexit implications.

The Bank of England acts as an advisory body to the Government and plays a key role in managing the economy. In the wake of the Brexit vote it has launched an important initiative to engage Finance Directors from across industries and around the country to be part of a Decision Maker Panel.

The purpose of the panel is to help the Bank understand the implications of Brexit for businesses on the ground. Peter will be telling the Bank what Brexit means for Smith & Ouzman on an on-going basis as the process of leaving the EU unfolds in the years ahead.

“This is a very important initiative and I am proud to be able to contribute to the process on behalf of Smith & Ouzman,” said Peter. “Obviously, it is important to stay aware of the risks and opportunities brought about by our leaving the EU. The Bank will be giving feedback to all participants about the collective impact of developments and policy decisions as they occur, so this is a two way process which can only benefit us as a company.”

Smith & Ouzman is helping Royal Mail overcome poll card processing problems

Automated sorting equipment has streamlined mail sorting in the UK, but not without creating many challenges for Royal Mail, especially when processing card products such as poll cards.

At Smith & Ouzman we are currently working with Royal Mail to help them resolve these problems without changing the unit cost of the poll card product, thereby minimising the impact of change upon local authorities.

Two issues that cause rejections of poll cards within the feeding and sorting processes are the flat nature of card material and the dual address format printed on the face of the cards.

Sorting equipment is designed to deal with an envelope, something which contains air and as such is easily gripped and separated by the equipment feeders. Poll cards are flat, contain no air and are much harder for the equipment to grip and process. An additional problem is that most poll card providers use a guillotining process that causes fibre crossover which can result in multiple feeds or jams in the automated sorting machines.

Smith & Ouzman has designed an innovative process which removes any risk of fibre crossover to combat multiple feeds and jams. We are also testing a solution that introduces air between individual cards after cutting, but before final packaging.

The second issue that causes problems with successful poll card delivery is two addresses. The typical UK poll card design carries two addresses on the front, the polling address on the left and the delivery address on the right, which can confuse the sorting equipment and cause rejections.

In an attempt to improve address identification and reduce rejection, new layouts of the poll cards incorporating clear zones are being reviewed by Royal Mail, and we will adopt these recommendations when finalised.

We regard working closely with Royal Mail to resolve such issues as a vital part of establishing a clearer understanding of our clients’ requirements that will ensure that we deliver trouble free mail-pieces and on-time mailings.