Youth enrolments a good sign
67.47 per cent. It’s unclear just why Rangitata is faring so well in a demographic often pegged as apathetic. It’s true that the Electoral Commission has been pushing for higher youth enrolments for years.
Tertiary institutions have also joined in, coming together for the ‘We Have Power’ campaign, which has set the lofty goal of getting every student to vote. The message is that if four out of five under-30s vote, the group would become the strongest voting bloc in the country. It’s a message that will appeal to young voters, who have in the past complained that their voices are rarely heard. Rangitata’s electorate candidates have also been active, visiting schools and trying to engage young people with the election process. That was tagged as a possible factor behind the enrolment figures by Mountainview High School head boy Blake Steel, who told our reporter that the visits had encouraged his peers to get more involved.
Seeing politicians in the flesh and having a chance to talk about the issues is certainly importantand with a bevy of new candidates standing in Rangitata, there’s every chance that has been a breath of fresh air for voters who may need a bit of a prod to get involved.
Social media may also be playing its part. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other forms of media, it’s easier than ever before for politicians to reach young voters. The amount of newsworthy turmoil in this election campaign could also be a factor- the Greens have strong youth backing, and the party’s declining fortunes following Metiria Turei’s resignation may have spurred some young people to strengthen that support.
The impact of Jacindamania, with its celebrity fans and promise of generational change, also can’t be ignored. It’s not just the Left that is targeting youth voters. National’s youth wing, the Young Nats, are increasingly active online, and have waged a strong social media campaign in support of National policies. Whether it’s one of those factors, or a combination of them all, that is behind the enrolment rate, it’s a good sign for the electorate. Young people will inherit the results of decisions made now, and having them involved in the process will benefit everyone.