Of total enrolled voters in the 2014 General Election, just 62.73 per cent of those aged 18-24 voted. The 25-29 age group was slightly worse with just a 62.11 per cent voter turnout nationally. Kelly Teed wonders why.
It’s boring. They’re all as bad as each other. I don’t like any of them. They won’t do anything they say. My vote won’t count. I just can’t be bothered.
These are some of the most common excuses I hear from people who don’t vote.
Low voter turnout is a serious issue. We all know this. We also know it’s even more of an issue among the younger generation.
In the 2014 General Election, just 59.22 per cent of 18-24 year olds in the Botany electorate showed up to vote. Pakuranga was slightly more active with 64.27 per cent of enrolled voters actually voting.
The 20-25 age group was similarly apathetic with 58.45 per cent voting in Pakuranga and 56.02 per cent in Botany. That’s below the national average of 62.11 per cent.
Ah, millennials. The reason for everything bad in the world. Or so they say.
I am 24-years-old. I am what you would consider a millennial. You know – the lazy, apathetic, entitled generation who expect everything handed to them on a silver platter. The ones who want to eat smashed avocado and drink barista coffee and have Sky TV AND Netflix and still want to own a house. The generation who just doesn’t care.
Except, hang on a minute…I don’t know anyone my age that fits that definition.
I admit, I buy a coffee on my way to work occasionally – maybe once every two or three weeks, if that. I go out to lunch or dinner with friends maybe once every couple of months. I have a gym membership and a Netflix subscription. Perhaps my only saving grace is that I don’t actually like avocado all that much.
Pester me all you like about saving and responsible spending of money. In fact, please do. I’ll be the first to admit I’m terrible with sticking to a budget.
But when it comes to real life issues – you can bet your bottom dollar I care. I care about people living in cars and in garages. I care about the seriously under-funded mental health services and our terrifyingly high suicide rate. I care about people being able to live properly, and although I’ve all but given up hope of owning a home in Auckland, I care about hard-working people getting priced out of the housing market too.
So heck yes, I care. And my peers care too. We care about the future. We care about the world we leave behind for our children. We work incredibly hard just to make ends meet. We leave university with thousands of dollars of debt and a piece of paper that in no way, shape or form guarantees us a stable job or income in a volatile job market.
Maybe the reason we come across as so apathetic towards politics is because we’re tired of feeling ignored. We’ve been repeatedly stereotyped and told how useless we are, that maybe we’ve given up trying to change those impressions.
But this is exactly why we can’t give up.
To my fellow millennials – the ones who are laden with debt, drowning in Auckland rent prices and maybe feeling slightly less than inspired about what’s in store for the future. We have the power to make a change in the world. I know it’s hard not to tune out when you hear things like ‘fiscal policy’ – believe me, I struggle sometimes too!
But next time you see a campaign flyer land in your letterbox, have a flick through it before you toss it in your recycling bin. Do a quick Google search to see what party resembles your beliefs most closely.
You don’t have to become a politics nut, you just have to show that you care. But most of all, I implore you to make the effort to get out and make an informed vote on September 23. You hold the power. You can change the status quo.
All it takes is two ticks – and those two ticks might just be enough to change the world.
Who knows, maybe one day we’ll be able to have our smashed avocado and a house too. Imagine that.