It’s time to Rock Enrol
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.’’
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.