It is once in every three years that I stroll to my letterbox and eagerly anticipate mail – the rest of the time I only have to open my phone for all my ‘virtual’ envelopes and letters.
It was a couple of weeks ago, I got my voting papers for the 2022 Local Body election.
While the vintage postal system may not be all that conducive for voting in 2022, the once in a blue moon act of receiving mail does give this Gen-Zer quite a thrill!
But, even more so, I get excited about the opportunity to vote and being able to have my say in the future of our community and city. However, based on the voter turnout statistics, I know that I am in a minority. In the 2019 local body election only 35.26 percent of registered voters turned out to vote and in 2016, those aged 18-24 were about half as likely to vote as those who were over the age of 65.
Now before I proceed, I must give a disclaimer. Please know that this is an apolitical, ‘orange coloured’ write up. You could perhaps count it as a Berocca to boost your voting energy!
So why is the voting turnout so low? There are a variety of reasons why people might not vote, such as not being educated on the role of local government (cue civics education), political apathy, physical/social barriers to voting or the perceived irrelevance of local government with the increased centralisation of powers.
But the real elephant in the room is why should young voters even care in the first place? Local elections are not just for ratepayers and homeowners, (which I know can seem like a distant dream to my generation) but they affect everyone, young and old alike. The decisions councils make now will have a huge impact on how future generations live, work and thrive in our communities. This includes the way we travel, housing opportunities, the number of taxes you pay, the level of investment in sports and play facilities, environmental protection, support for community organisations, the vibrancy of our towns and I can’t forget the all-important public toilets!
Furthermore, voting is a civic duty that leads to a healthy local democracy. And, even more than that, I would say it is an act of care for the state of our city and community.
There is not much time to lose – you have only a handful of days until Saturday October 8 to cast your vote. So, in this time, get to know who is seeking to represent you. Do your research on who they are and what they stand for – including checking Hibiscus Matters’ election features in recent issues.
From the mayoral office to the local board, our city and community needs strong, passionate and wise leaders and decision makers to steer our city’s ship.
Let’s show our care and make our votes count!