Can­di­dates seek dig­i­tal ap­proach

Manukau Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - EMILY FORD

It’s time for New Zealand to wel­come on­line vot­ing, says a group of as­pir­ing young politi­cians.

Na­tional Party’s Simeon Brown, 26, Labour’s Jesse Pabla, 22, and Green Party’s Julie Zhu, 24, all agree be­ing able to vote on­line would get more young peo­ple engaged in elec­tions.

The three can­di­dates are vy­ing for Auck­land seats in the up­com­ing gen­eral elec­tion, and shared their views about youth vot­ing in a panel dis­cus­sion with Manukau Courier.

Run­ning for the Paku­ranga elec­torate, Brown says the elec­toral com­mis­sion does a lot to en­cour­age peo­ple to vote but there’s al­ways more that can be done.

‘‘I think on­line vot­ing is a sen­si­ble way for­ward to help en­sure there’s more choice in how you do vote,’’ Brown says.

Zhu, who’s con­test­ing the Botany seat, says there needs to be a lot more ed­u­ca­tion about how to strate­gi­cally make the most of your vote. Mov­ing to­wards on­line vot­ing would make it more ac­ces­si­ble for young peo­ple, she says.

‘‘I think it is re­ally daunt­ing for any­one whether you’re young or old or if English is a bar­rier for you, to read all the poli­cies, which are quite dense,’’ Zhu says.

Pabla says on­line vot­ing is an eas­ier op­tion for peo­ple than hav­ing to travel to a polling booth, par­tic­u­larly if they don’t have trans­port.

The Pa­pakura can­di­date says a lot of his friends want to vote but don’t know how to do it, and more ed­u­ca­tion is needed.

‘‘They do want to make a change but some­times they’re just not ed­u­cated,’’ Pabla says.

Brown has been in­volved in pol­i­tics since he was in high school, and was the deputy chair of the Ma­nurewa Lo­cal Board from 2013 to 2016. The com­mer­cial banker ran for the Ma­nurewa seat in the 2014 elec­tion, los­ing to Labour’s Louisa Wall.

At num­ber 54 on the Labour list, it’s Pabla’s first time run­ning and vot­ing in an elec­tion, de­spite be­ing a mem­ber of the party for six years. He grew up in Pa­pakura and his fam­ily’s been in­volved with Labour for most of his life.

Film­maker Zhu joined the Green Party dur­ing the last elec- tion, and ran her first cam­paign last year in the lo­cal body elec­tions. Orig­i­nally from China, she is also a mem­ber of Asians Sup­port­ing Tino Ran­gati­ratanga.

Hous­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, and trans­port are some of the key elec­tion is­sues the can­di­dates say young vot­ers care about, and most young adults they know are po­lit­i­cally engaged.

‘‘I think there’s a lot of young peo­ple who do take a re­ally keen in­ter­est and I en­cour­age young peo­ple I come across who do show an in­ter­est to get in­volved,’’ Brown says.

Com­ing from an ac­tivist back­ground, Zhu says there are a lot of young peo­ple who are engaged in pol­i­tics, but not nec­es­sar­ily at­tached to a po­lit­i­cal party.

‘‘I think on­line vot­ing is a sen­si­ble way for­ward to help en­sure there's more choice in how you do vote. ’’

JARRED WIL­LIAMSON/STUFF

Green Party can­di­date Julie Zhu, 24, (Botany), Na­tional Party can­di­date Simeon Brown, 26, (Paku­ranga) and Labour Party can­di­date Jesse Pabla, 22, (Pa­pakura).

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