Why young people aren’t enrolling to vote for 2016 federal election
Published: May 16, 2016 – 12:00AM
Two teenagers behind an initiative to get more young people involved in the political process say Gen Y isn’t as politically apathetic as many like to believe.
Instead, 19-year-old Kate Butler and Gina Zheng, who founded Enrol 4 Change, said it’s a misconception about the power of their vote which stops many young people from making it to the polls.
Ms Butler said at the last federal election, about a quarter of Australians aged 18 to 24 eligible to vote weren’t on the electoral roll.
“I think it can be hard for many young people to grasp the importance of enrolling, given the apparent insignificance of their one vote,” Ms Butler said.
“However, in order for the political issues concerning young people to be taken seriously, I believe it is crucial for them to have their say about the issues they care about, which they can do by stating their preferences when they cast their vote. Moreover, as one of the Senate seats for the ACT is a marginal seat, each vote does truly count.”
The pair are holding talks at university colleges and using a social media competition to make their peers realise the value of their vote ahead of the closure of the electoral rolls on May 23.
But despite popular perception, Ms Butler said today’s youth aren’t nearly as indifferent towards politics as many older Australians believe.
“In fact, I think the opposite is true. There are many political issues that concern young people and we feel passionately about so many of them, such as climate change, housing affordability, the surplus and the cost and availability of higher education,” Ms Butler said.
“However, as people from older generations dominate Australian politics, it can be difficult for young people to actively connect with political issues. All too often there is a lack of interest in and attention paid to engaging youth in the political process. It would be fantastic to see a shift in attitude so that politicians seek to reach out to young voters and discuss with us the issues that matter to Australia’s youth.”
So what is it that young people want from their pollies?
“Quite simply, we want parties that put people before policies, and policies before power,” Ms Zheng said.
“Australian politics has become somewhat ridiculed over the last few years. With our two major factions both having undergone spills, as well as a very rushed election campaign following a politically-fuelled double-dissolution, what we young people need right now is an Australian political climate that takes itself seriously, so that we can take it seriously as well. The youth vote is powerful, and one that needs to be heard.”
You can find out how to Enrol 4 Change by heading to: https://www.facebook.com/enrol4change/
Key dates to remembers for Federal Election 2016
- The deadline to enrol or update your details is 8pm Monday 23 May 2016.
- The election writs will be served on Monday, 16 May 2016, the “formal start” of the poll.
- Parties have until midday, Thursday June 9 to nominate candidates.
- The Election Day is Saturday, July 2.