‘I care too much not to vote’

Hamilton Press - - CONVERSATIONS - AMELIA CHRIS­TENSEN-ROSE

Opin­ion: Dur­ing the 2014 gen­eral elec­tion, I was 17 years old and all my friends were 18. I was so an­noyed that they could vote and I couldn’t. Most of them didn’t vote, young peo­ple gen­er­ally don’t, and that an­noyed me so much more. I knew who I would have voted for. The same party I voted for this year.

Grow­ing up I couldn’t wait to be able to vote. I wanted to feel like an adult. The first elec­tion I was able to vote in was for the Hamil­ton City Coun­cil. I did my re­search, I read up on all the can­di­dates. My brother said I was weird. But then he doesn’t care about any of that. He didn’t vote this year de­spite turn­ing 18, three days be­fore the elec­tion and be­ing en­rolled.

The next thing I voted for was the flag ref­er­en­dum. I didn’t have to read up for that one, I knew I didn’t want the flag to change, I still don’t. This year, I fi­nally got what I wanted. To vote in the gen­eral elec­tion. I was lucky, I’m in a po­si­tion where I could meet the Hamil­ton can­di­dates, al­though I met more from the Hamil­ton East elec­torate when I’m Hamil­ton West.

I knew who I wasn’t vot­ing for, a choice in­flu­enced by my par­ents. I didn’t read up on all of the poli­cies this year ex­cept the ones for the party I sup­port. I wanted to read their smaller poli­cies, to make sure they lined up with me.

I took at least three quizzes on who I should vote for and they all said the same thing. I had picked the right party for me. Fri­day, Septem­ber 22, I walked down to the clos­est vot­ing place and stood in the long line. I didn’t have to wait long. Some how ev­ery­one in front of me was Hamil­ton East and there was a Hamil­ton West per­son free. I got pushed right up to the front.

I sat down, gave my name and was handed my vot­ing pa­per. This is what I had been wait­ing my whole life for. I ticked the cir­cle next to the Green Party and the cir­cle next to Jo Wrigley and put the pa­per in the box. I got my sticker. I think I ended up be­ing more ex­cited about that. Of course, I had to take a cou­ple of pic­tures of me wear­ing the sticker proudly on my jacket. I am a mil­len­nial af­ter all.

It wasn’t as ex­cit­ing as I thought it would be. I prob­a­bly should have waited un­til the Satur­day and voted next to my mu­min­stead of cast­ing my vote alone. But I care too much about my fu­ture to not vote.

I care too much about the coun­try that my fu­ture chil­dren will live in. I care too much about this coun­try that I al­ways thought I wanted to leave. Elec­tion night was full of anx­i­ety and heart­break. I watched as Na­tional’s num­bers stayed well above Labour’s.

I al­most choked on my din­ner when Hone Harawera said: ‘‘It’s not over un­til Paula Ben­nett sings’’. I thought that was a bit harsh. I car­ried on watch­ing cov­er­age of the elec­tion. I oc­ca­sion­ally left the spare room of my par­ents’ house to vent at them about Na­tional win­ning. I needed to walk it off. I just care too much.

- Amelia Chris­tensen-Rose is a jour­nal­ism stu­dent at Win­tec.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Hamil­ton Press wel­comes let­ters and opin­ion ar­ti­cles for its Con­ver­sa­tions page. Let­ters must be about 200 words and opin­ion ar­ti­cles about 400 words. Send in your con­tri­bu­tions by noon, Fri­days, to: kel­ley.tan­tau@fair­fax­me­dia.co.nz

Re­search con­firmed which party first­time voter Amelia Chris­tensen-Rose should vote for.

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