2 November 2017
Youth voter turnout on the rise
The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) is applauding the 49,370 more young voters who turned out for the 2017 General Election, in figures recently released by the Electoral Commission. There was a 6% increase in voter turnout among young people under 30 compared with the 2014 General Election, the highest proportionate increase compared with any other age group.
National President Jonathan Gee says, ‘in an MMP environment, one percentage point can be make or break for a political party or government. With almost 50,000 more young people voting than at the last election, it shows that we made a difference.’
Students’ associations across the country played their part to increase youth turnout through the the #WeHavePower campaign. Spanning across 15 tertiary campuses, the campaign mobilised hundreds of volunteers who organised lecture walkouts, political debates, vote pledges and phone banking among other activities in an effort to get students and young people to the polls.
‘#WeHavePower was the beginning of a movement to better connect young people with politics. Politics has failed to speak to the aspirations, experiences and lived realities of young people, which leads to low youth turnout at elections. We hope that we’ve played our part in working to end the political marginalisation of young people.’
Gee warns, however, that we need structural change in order to further increase youth voter turnout.
‘A high youth voter turnout won’t happen overnight. If we continue to believe that young people don’t care, and continue to deny them universal civics and citizenship education in schools, things won’t change.’
Students and young people also expect that politicians keep their promises on the issues they care about.
‘We want to see action on issues such as mental health, better financial support and climate change. We’ll be holding the Government to their promises over the next three years to ensure that politics works better on the issues we care about.’