It’s time to Rock En­rol

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By KARINA ABADIA

WANT to help shape our po­lit­i­cal fu­ture?

Then you need to en­rol and vote, Laura O’Connell Rapira says.

‘‘The rules are made by the peo­ple who turn up. Politi­cians won’t take their views into con­sid­er­a­tion un­less they vote.’’

The 25-year-old is one of the co­founders of Rock En­rol, a non­par­ti­san cam­paign spear­headed by mem­bers of the youth-led or­gan­i­sa­tion Gen­er­a­tion Zero.

The cam­paign is de­signed to en­cour­age more un­der-30 year-olds to vote. This ob­jec­tive is par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant to Auck­land Cen­tral which has the low­est en­rol­ment in the coun­try for un­der-30s.

Only 36 per cent of 18 to 24-yearolds and 43 per cent of 25 to 29-year-olds in the area are signed up to vote, as of Au­gust 3.

This com­pares to 69 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds and 74 per cent of 25 to 29-year-olds across the coun­try.

Rock En­rol has a net­work of vol­un­teers around New Zealand who go to events, con­certs and uni­ver­sity dorms to in­crease youth en­rol­ment.

‘‘As we en­rol peo­ple we’re also col­lect­ing pledges to vote,’’ O’Conn- ell Rapira says. ‘‘That means they’re promis­ing to make a stand in the elec­tion to vote for who­ever they want.

‘‘We then prom­ise to get them the in­for­ma­tion they need to make an in­formed de­ci­sion come elec­tion day.

‘‘That’s not only in­for­ma­tion on pol­icy but the ac­tual vot­ing process as well be­cause that can be quite in­tim­i­dat­ing for first-time vot­ers.

‘‘We’re also look­ing at do­ing some gigs dur­ing the ad­vanced vot­ing pe­riod to make it cel­e­bra­tory and pro­vide that so­cial proof that there are lots of young peo­ple out there who are po­lit­i­cally en­gaged.’’

So why don’t young peo­ple vote in the first place? It’s not be­cause they aren’t in­ter­ested in is­sues, she says.

‘‘I know count­less young peo­ple that vol­un­teer for dif­fer­ent non gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions and they would con­sider them­selves ac­tivists but they just don’t see how vot­ing fits into that nec­es­sar­ily.

‘‘Part of the prob­lem is we don’t have a huge em­pha­sis on civic ed­u­ca­tion in schools which means it’s re­ally hard to make the con­nec­tion be­tween what goes on in Welling­ton and what hap­pens in your every­day life.’’

But lots of politi­cians are try­ing to bridge that gap, she says.

‘‘I think Jacinda Ardern’s Ask Me Any­thing ini­tia­tive was re­ally clever. I know Nikki Kaye gets re­ally in­volved in Fes­ti­val for the Fu­ture and then you’ve got the In­ter­net Party which are re­ally try­ing to ac­ti­vate the youth vote too.’’

Jacinda Ardern, who is the Labour MP for Auck­land Cen­tral, has teamed up with Rock En­rol mem­bers to visit uni­ver­sity halls of res­i­dences and en­rol stu­dents in the lead up to Septem­ber 20.

Ardern says some stu­dents who are study­ing away from home are still en­rolled at their home ad­dress rather than their Auck­land one.

‘‘That’s skew­ing the stats a bit but I think that will only rep­re­sent part of the prob­lem.’’

Young peo­ple say they don’t know the dif­fer­ence be­tween the par­ties or it doesn’t feel rel­e­vant to them. Those are re­ally im­por­tant things for politi­cians to fo­cus on, Ardern says.

‘‘My con­cern is that so many of the de­ci­sions we’re mak­ing now will af­fect their gen­er­a­tion,’’ she says. ‘‘Whether or not the re­tire­ment age is sus­tain­able, whether we take mean­ing­ful ac­tion on cli­mate change are de­ci­sions we are mak­ing to­day that they need to have a stake in.’’

Photo: KARINA ABADIA

Sign up: Rock En­rol mem­bers Meliesha Platt and Laura O’Connell Rapira are with Labour list MP Jacinda Ardern, and are en­cour­ag­ing young peo­ple to en­rol.

Go to auck­land­c­i­ty­har­bournews to watch the lat­est elec­toral com­mis­sion video.

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