Young voter turnout an ongoing problem

It will come as no surprise that as the country’s youngest mayor, I support lowering the voting age to

16.

It’s easy to understand that giving young people a voice in the political process is essential to building a more inclusive, representative and diverse democracy.

However, as I drive around the region, seeing campaign signs for the upcoming election being erected and campaigns ramping up, I can’t help but wonder if lowering the voting age will make any real difference.

You see, the issue isn’t that young people aren’t allowed to vote — it’s that they don’t.

In Southland, not only did the 18-24 age group have the second-lowest number of enrolled voters, it also had the worst voter turnout in the 2020 election.

This trend was the same throughout the country.

And I get it — politics can be boring and overwhelming. But as a young person in a position of leadership, I can attest to the fact the decisions made by our government have a direct impact on our lives.

So, why aren’t we showing up to have our say?

We must take a different approach if we are going to increase youth voter turnout.

There is a wider focus needed on education and meaningful engagement.

We need to make politics accessible and relevant to young people and empower them to understand the importance of their vote.

But let’s be real, it’s not just about educating young people on the importance of voting.

It is also about educating them on the importance of making an informed vote.

Giving young people the ability to vote is one thing, but what’s the point if they don’t know who or what they’re voting for?

So, while I am excited about the prospect of young people having a say on who gets to make the laws, I am also realistic about the challenges ahead.

Lowering the voting age would be just the first step — it’s up to us as a society to make sure young people have the knowledge and motivation to use their votes wisely.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here, waiting for the teenage revolution to take over the voting stats.

But don’t worry, there’s plenty of room for all of us . . . assuming they can find their way to the polling booth.