By Taryn Dryfhout
Low student voter turnout in the general election looks likely again this year, despite efforts to encourage students to cast their vote on election day.
Multiple efforts were made last election by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Association (NZUSA), including early voting at every university campus, and volunteers assisting students with enrolment prior to voting day.
However, these efforts did not appear to push students to be heard in election polls.
Voters aged between 18 and 24 had the lowest turnout at the 2014 elections, and with this year’s election creeping up and enrolment rates looking low again, it looks likely that things may play out in similar fashion this year.
According to Massey Extramural Students’ Society (EXMSS) president, David Mcnab, it is especially important the younger demographic have their say.
“The 18-25 age group, which includes most students, holds the key to power and massive social change,” he says.
“They only have to insert that key in the lock and turn it. In refusing to exercise their power, they are voluntarily relinquishing their power to the “one per cent” – the ruling class – and such have only themselves to blame for the pain they’re feeling.”
Statistics show that the electorates with the lowest enrolment rates happen to be those with high student populations, demonstrating that not only are students not voting, but they aren’t even enrolling to vote.
As part of their campaigning, several parties have targeted student voters by promising free tertiary study, or erasure of student loans.
“All it would take is a little bit of organisation and rabble-rousing, among our 18-25s, our hope for the future, to mobilise and concentrate this mass discontent, and we would see a whole new political, economic and social reality emerge almost overnight,” says Mcnab.
To enrol to vote, visit www.elections.org.nz