It’s that time every three years where we implore you to vote. This year, I’m not going to stand on my soapbox and tell you who to vote for. You can probably already guess who I’m going to vote for, and my answer to that is that you’re absolutely fucking right. What I will talk about is why we need more students voting.
Youth voter turnout is pretty low. For this election, 72% of people aged 18 to 29 are enrolled. While this is an improvement from 69% in 2017, it’s still far below the enrolment rate of the older boomer generation and it’s concerning that our generation can’t seem to get their shit together and mail off the enrolment form.
So the question is: how do we get young people to vote? Those who aren’t enrolled to vote potentially aren’t reading this. They’re certainly not watching the Ghost Voter campaign ads and for sure don’t enjoy the Electoral Commission’s 80s inspired song about MMP (it’s as fucking cringe as it sounds). They’re a hard audience to capture and engage with and political scientists recognise that by the time people are old enough to contribute to these efforts – they’re not in the target audience anymore.
I guess if we already had the answers to getting young people to vote, we would’ve done it by now. I’m over all the youth voter campaigns. They do an incremental part to raise turnout, but since 2014, our turnout has only risen 3% – that’s not enough. The most practical thing to raise youth voter turnout would be to lower the voting age to 16: Get kids to vote when they’re in school, socialising with others, and where the peer pressure is actually to do it. To those who say that 16 year olds don’t know enough, I will say, you can make dumb voting decisions at 16 or at 50 or at any age in fact: we’ve seen this many times before.
Go out and vote,
Listen, I didn’t want to be that guy telling young people to vote. It’s overplayed. It’s condescending. It’s a little too boomer-y for my tastes.
But, as Cameron points out, it does need to be said. Stats show that younger people just don’t vote as much as older people. Which sucks. Because older people are lame.
If you’re thinking of not voting because you’re worried the process will take too long, or that it’ll be weird and scary, or that it’ll be boring, or that you won’t know what to do, let me tell you how my recent experience voting went:
I was sitting at home, trying to avoid watching the lectures I needed to catch up on. I googled ‘election voting booths nearby’. My search took me to the Vote NZ website. A webpage with all the voting booths on it told me the nearest one was just round the corner, at my local mall. I rocked up at the mall. I scanned the COVID-19 QR code. I walked inside and stood in line for about two minutes. A lady handed me two forms and a pen and told me how it works. I went to a booth. I ticked for my party vote, my MP vote, my cannabis and euthanasia vote. And then I dropped my slips of paper in a box by the door and walked out.
The whole thing took me about five minutes.
So, please vote this election. I don’t want a country run by boomers.
PS. If you’re at uni right now, you can vote anytime during the week by rocking up to the Aotea Centre on Queen Street.