11 Nov 2011

110,000 young people not enrolled to vote

7:33 pm on 11 November 2011

The national manager of the Electoral Enrolment Centre fears young voters are missing out on the opportunity to have their say.

Murray Wicks says two-thirds of the 250,000 people not signed up to vote are aged between 18 and 29.

The lowest enrolment rates are in areas with a high density of young people where there are universities and polytechs - the electorates of Auckland Central, Wellington Central and Palmerston North.

Wairarapa, New Plymouth and Hunua have the highest enrolment rates among the young, at about 93%.

Mr Wicks says 135,000 people have enrolled to vote for the first time at this election, but is concerned that 110,000 people aged between 18 and 24 have not enrolled.

"Everybody's vote is important and it's as equal as everybody else's ... It's their future and they're leaving it up to the rest of society to make the decision for them.

"They need to get enrolled; they need to vote and determine their own future."

Mr Wicks says schools have a strong enrolment programme but the centre struggles to keep track of people after they leave home.

David Do, co-president of the New Zealand Union of Students' Associations, says it has been working with tertiary staff to try and enrol students on campus.

Mr Do thinks this year's Rugby World Cup has drawn some attention away from the election, but says young people also feel disengaged from the political process.

The election will be held on 26 November.