Looking at the voter turnout (the percent of the population eligible to vote who went on to actually do so) of recent general elections, it would appear that the 21st century has heralded an age of political disillusionment, with no general election encouraging a turnout of more than 66% for the last 19 years. However, last week’s EU referendum coaxed out 30 million voters – equalling a 71% turnout – proving that, as a nation, we’re starting to rediscover our collective voice.

So today, we present you with three of our general elections and referendums in which the highest number of people were able to draw a cross in a box.

In no particular order…

1950 General Election


Notable as the first general election to take place after a full term of a Labour government, the 1950 election secured a second term for Clement Attlee and achieved a record turnout for a general election of 83.9%. But with a very slim lead over the Conservatives, Attlee called another general election in the hope of increasing his majority; however, he was ousted by wartime leader Winston Churchill, once again on the back of another very high turnout of 82%.

1998 Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement Referendum


Yes, I know that’s a bit of mouthful.

The 1998 referendum in Northern Ireland was designed to assess public support for the Good Friday Agreement, with the aim of restoring peace in Northern Ireland and bringing to end a period known as The Troubles. The agreement needed to be approved in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and in both cases there was support for the motion, with Northern Ireland recording an impressive turnout of 81.1%. It is even estimated that 147,000 people who wouldn’t normally vote felt compelled to fulfil their democratic duty in the referendum.

2014 Scottish Independence Referendum


A progressive attitude permitted 16-year-olds to vote in the independence referendum, inciting strong political fervour among young people and reassuring 16-year-olds that their voices and their futures matter – perhaps the brains behind the EU referendum could have learned a thing or two from Scotland… The referendum managed a record turnout of 84.6% – a triumph for democracy.