Voting is a crucial part of our democracy. Yet almost 1 in 5 of Australia’s youth are not enrolled to vote and over a million Australians are expected to not take their place at the ballots this year.
Despite an increase in youth participation, Australia still falls below its target enrollment rate, and this is a problem.
By May 11 we will know if we are headed for a double dissolution election in July or if we will be waiting for the usual Federal election in November.
If we do get to a double dissolution election, however, both the House of Representatives and the Senate will be dissolved and we’ll be re-electing an entirely new upper house and lower house. Having an entirely new government is not a common occurrence and this makes voting all the more important.
Now, voting isn’t the be all and end all of being a democratic citizen. Protesting, engaging in important conversations and being an active member of society are all important things that influence decision making.
But voting as a responsibility boils down to this: the government as a representative body needs to listen to the people because it is we who put them in power. And because of this, we can just as easily vote them out if they refuse to. Our vote and the polling power it holds means that Australian politics needs to reflect the population or else the government in power will fail. The vote is a cornerstone in our democracy which ensures that our needs are heard.
I understand that some people complain that voting is a nuisance and that politics isn’t their concern. But it is everyone’s concern. Policy affects every aspect of our lives, and this is why a lack of the vote has led countries to revolution.
We are lucky enough to have been born at a place and in a time where our voice matters, when for so long voices like ours haven’t been considered important enough. We need to ensure that all Australians have adequate access to vote and an understanding of the vote so that no one is marginalised from participating in this centralised decision making process.
And lastly, let us take time to consider the wise words of Jacob Coote:
So Australia speak up and poise your pens – and for the love of freedom: get ready, get set… vote.