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August 7, 2017 | by  | in VUWSA |
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Presidential Address

In less than 60 days, the New Zealand public is expected to head out to the polls and vote in a new government. It’s a point, every three years, where those invested in politics get together with their mates for beer and political banter, and a large portion of eligible voters turn off the TV and wait for the whole “boring” process to be over.

Young people are guilty of the latter. Four out of every ten people in the 18–25 year old voting bracket did not turn out to vote in the last election. But I’m sick of seeing this statistic so easily manipulated to be part of the intergenerational blame culture.

Every day young people engage in politics. Whether it be on internet forums or through art and music, university debates or conversations in a dingy Wellington flat about a system that could work better — young people are political. However, their way of doing politics is often dismissed, so it’s no wonder young people often dismiss the more conventional way of engaging in politics: voting.

But with less than two months until the election we need to focus our energy not on what we can’t do, but what we can. Regardless of the result on September 23, whether it’s Bill English, Jacinda Ardern, Winston Peters, or even Gareth Morgan that are in the hot seat to be PM, youth voting could arguably play a bigger role in determining the future direction of our country.

Ultimately politicians care about votes, because they need them. Therefore it is no surprise that as youth turnout has declined over the last few elections, so has the prominence of the issues that matter to many of us.

This election we have a big opportunity. By turning this trend around, we will send our issues right back up to the top of the political agenda, well beyond the term of whoever takes up the Prime Ministership this September.

The opportunity is there, the challenge is there. Let’s get 100% students voting.

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