Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Students want voting to be easier

July 3, 2014

Students want voting to be easier

More young non-voters would be motivated to participate in September’s general election by online voting than a one-off $50 payment, according to the results of a student survey conducted by Massey University.

The survey, which was conducted by academics and students from the university’s Politics Programme, targeted 18-24 year old students to gauge their attitudes to the upcoming general election.

Of the the respondents who indicated they did not intend to vote, 75 per cent said they would be more likely to vote if online voting was introduced, while only 51 per cent said they would be motivated by a $50 payment.

The study also found that nearly three-quarters of young people get their information on New Zealand politics from the media and nearly all said they would consult the internet to get information on the electoral process.

Dr Damien Rogers, who analysed the responses of nearly 300 students from Massey’s three campuses, says these results reflect the level to which technology shapes the lives of young people.

“Among our 288 responders we have a high level of technological literacy and there’s a sense that they want voting to be made as convenient as everything else in their lives.”

But Politics Progamme colleague Associate Professor Richard Shaw warned that online voting alone is unlikely to be the silver bullet that fixes declining participation levels among young voters.

“Online voting would help – but we should be careful to make sure the solutions match the problems,” he says.

“Amongst young people – and also amongst other groups who tend not to vote, including some migrant communities, and people who are either poor and/or who have not spent many years in formal education – the critical things are to demystify the voting process and to make politics relevant.

“The technology alone won’t solve that problem – but at a time in history in which there is a sense that democracy is being ‘hollowed out’, it’s really important we don’t let a generation of potential voters drift away from politics,” Dr Shaw says.

Dr Rogers says, overall, the results showed surprisingly high levels of voting intention amongst university students, with 79 per cent of respondents saying they intend to vote in the next general election.

“There is a lot to be positive about in the results of this survey, but this is a well-educated, probably largely middle-class, cohort.

“I’d also note that, while 79 per cent of respondents said they intend to vote, 40 per cent of those who were eligible to vote in the last election admitted that they did not vote.”

The survey also found that over two-thirds of respondents did not know the name of their electorate and less than eight per cent knew the date of the general election.

“While neither of these things is terribly important this far out, it does raise questions about the true level of engagement,” Dr Rogers says.

He also says there were no burning issues identified by the respondents that were universally important to young people.

“Amongst those intending to vote, there was no major issue that was identified as important by most respondents, although education, health and the environment were the three most common themes.

“I think many young people see very little difference in the main political parties, at least not as far as their own circumstances are concerned. Those not intending to vote identified laziness as a key factor – they just didn’t feel strongly enough about the outcome or believe their vote would make a difference.

“Many also pointed to their own lack of knowledge about the issues so there is certainly scope for providing information in a way that engages young people. The survey was conducted before the announcement of the Mana/Internet Party alliance so it will be interesting to see if that changes the election landscape for young people.”

Dr Shaw says the self-identified barriers to voting are a reflection of low levels of political literacy.

“Civics education might help, but it would need to be civics pointed at the issues that matter to people, not civics taught at the level of constitutional design. It might also help if we began to question some of the things we’ve long taken for granted. The role of political parties is one of these. We still think that parties are primarily responsible for mobilising voters – but these days only three per cent of the voting age population are members of a party, so we need to explore other vehicles for mobilising people,” he says.

“Perhaps above all, we need to ask: Is driving up turnout a desirable thing in and of itself? If our conception of citizenship is limited to asking people to roll out of bed and vote once every three years, that doesn’t seem like a particularly compelling reason for voting.”

The release of the student election survey coincides with the launch of Massey’s election website – http://masseyvotes.massey.ac.nz. The site contains a full list of expert media commentators and details of all the university’s election-related activities, including the Design & Democracy Project.

The project is a strategic research unit established by the College of Creative Arts to increase awareness of election issues among young people. It will launch two voter facilitation projects, On the Fence and Ask Away, prior to the September 20 election.

Massey student election survey – key statistics
• 288 participants from across Massey’s three campuses took part; 77% of respondents were aged 18-24.
• 85% think voting is a worthwhile activity and 79% intend to vote in the next general election.
• However, 40% of those eligible to vote in the last election did not vote.
• 97% would consult the internet to get information on the electoral process.
• 67% did not know the name of their electorate and only 7.9% knew the date of the general election.
• 44% discuss politics with their friends and 42% discuss politics with their family.
• 73% get their information on New Zealand politics from the media, while 43% get their information from their families and 35% from their peers.
• Only 21% intend to give their vote to the same party as their parents.
• 68% do not think politicians are trustworthy.
• 39% do not believe politicians care about what young people think.
• 75% of non-voters would be more likely to vote if online voting was available and 51% would be more likely to vote if offered a one-off $50 payment.

Visit Massey’s election website at http://masseyvotes.massey.ac.nz
Follow our commentators and the conversation on Twitter at #MasseyVotes
Learn more about the Design & Democracy Project at http://openlab.ac.nz/designdemocracy
View our list of political commentators: http://bit.ly/massey-commentators
View our list of issues experts: http://bit.ly/issues-experts

Watch a video of Massey students explaining why they do and don’t vote: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fYVHuRCasY

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

False Electoral Return: John Banks Sentenced To Community Work, Curfew

“The conviction of John Banks today is another sad chapter for John Banks and the ACT Party”, says Labour candidate for Epsom Michael Wood.

“Mr Banks was found guilty of electoral fraud in June. Regardless of what sentence is handed down, his reputation is in tatters. Sentencing is a matter for the court, and publicly deriding him further brings little benefit.”

“With the conviction confirmed, it is time for the ACT Party to step up to the mark and apologise to the people of Epsom. Mr Banks has suffered the consequences of his actions, but so far the ACT Party has gotten off scott-free” More>>

 

Parliament Today:

Gordon Campbell: On The Rise Of ISIS And Labour

While global attention got distracted by the fate of MH17 and the atrocities in Gaza, the world’s other mega ‘bad news’ story – the rise of ISIS-led fundamentalism in Iraq – has reached a tipping point. More>>

ALSO:

Rebuild: Christchurch City Council Releases Milestone Report

The Cameron Partners report says the Council may need to find an additional $783 million to $883 million by 2019... Options Cameron Partners proposed include increasing rates, borrowing more, maximising insurance payments, and freeing up capital from its commercial assets. More>>

ALSO:

Parliament Today: Parliament Adjourns

The 50th Parliament has adjourned for the final time. After the completion of the adjournment debate, MPs left for the campaign trail with Parliament to be dissolved on August 14 ahead of the September 20 election. More>>

ALSO:

Novopayout: Government-Owned Company To Take Over School Payroll

After lengthy negotiations, the Ministry of Education and the existing school payroll provider, Talent2, have settled both on the amounts payable by Talent2 towards the costs of remediating the Novopay service and a new operating model for the school payroll system. More>>

ALSO:

Employment: Labour Will Raise Minimum Wage, Restore Work Rights

A Labour government will raise the minimum wage $2 an hour to $16.25 and restore work rights to ensure the benefits of economic growth are shared fairly by all New Zealanders, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. More>>

ALSO:

Police: Crewe File Review Released

No new evidence has come to light implicating any specific person as being responsible for the murders of Jeannette and Harvey Crewe... The review identifies there is a distinct possibility that Exhibit 350 (the brass .22 cartridge case) may be fabricated evidence, and that if this is the case, that a member of Police would have been responsible. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf Issue #49: Gordon Campbell Interviews Laila Harre

For 25 years, Labour and National have been in virtual agreement about the basics of economic policy, and differed mainly on how to go about managing its social consequences. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news