Written by Toby Crockford, edited for online by Sam Mortimer.
The electoral rolls for the Federal Election on July 2 close in two weeks, and 17 per cent of young people across Australia are not eligible to vote.
According to Australia Electoral Commission figures, more than 380,000 Australians in the 18-25 year-old bracket are yet to enrol.
Australian Electoral Commission spokesman Evan Ekin-Smith said it was a common problem.
“Youth being under-represented on the electoral roll has been the case for many elections now,” he said.
“If you look at the 2013 Federal Election, there’s about 400,000 in that eight to 25 year-old bracket who weren’t enrolled to vote and missed out on their vote.”
QUT Professor of Political Science Clive Bean offered a reason behind young Australians disinterest in being enrolled to vote.
“Basically a lot of young people, a lot of people in general, don’t rate politics as a terribly salient activity, so it won’t be at the top of their list of things to do when they turn 18,” Mr Bean said.
“It will be for some, but for many it won’t because it’s just not a terribly salient aspect of their lives.”
Australian Youth Affairs Coalition chair Katie Acheson said the young were an important demographic for politicians at the election.
“The government and politicians know that young people are the swing vote. That they’re the ones who that they can win over,” she said.
“So young people aren’t locked into old ideas of party lines. They’re more likely to say, ‘well this an issue that’s important to me, this person is saying that’ and they’ll vote for that person, as opposed to the older people who will say ‘I’m going to vote Labor or Liberal’ or ‘right or left’.”
National Tertiary Education Union acting general secretary Matthew McGowan said there were several government policies students should have their say on.
“The reality is in higher education, we are facing the prospect of deregulation of the sector. We are still looking at the government proposing $100,000 degrees, shifting public money into private providers and a range of other things which are damaging to students, and damaging to the education that they’re receiving.”
Australian Youth Climate Coalition national campaigner Dan Spencer said climate change could have a significant impact on young people’s future.
“We’re really seeing the impacts of global warming right now. We know the mining and burning of fossil fuels is leading to the impacts of climate change, like what we’re seeing at the Great Barrier Reef, which is bleaching across much of the reef right now,” he said.
“So for young people to have a say about these issues, which really have a big impact on our future, we need to be enrolled to vote.”
Australian Electoral Commission spokesman Evan Ekin-Smith said it was important to emphasize how lucky Australians were to have the opportunity to vote.
“Australia has a great democratic system. We have easy access to our vote in Australia. It’s not the case in a lot of electoral systems around the world, so take advantage of it.”
Potential voters have until 8pm on Monday, May 23 to enrol.