The smart vote

The smart vote

IT takes just one vote to swing a seat and it takes just one politician to change a generation.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) estimates 23 per cent of eligible young voters in the seat of Calare are currently unregistered to vote. But with the federal election looming, a local politician has turned to social media and a smartphone app to see if he can secure a generation of votes.

Labor candidate for Calare, Dr Jess Jennings is personally building an app to be available on the Apple and Android platforms in a matter of weeks, mainly targeting 18-24 year olds.

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The app will disseminate policy ideas, allow users to give feedback on these ideas and point to useful links and items of interest, such as the enrol-to-vote page on the electoral commission.

Dr Jennings believes politics must stay in touch with the way young people communicate and said the first step to change politically complacent and disengaged youths is to develop a new kind of political engagement with them.

“The main issues at hand is education and training opportunities for being able to live a decent lifestyle from those qualifications for later life,” said Dr Jennings.

The biggest challenge politicians are facing in the 21st century is cutting through the noise of the Internet and media to grab young peoples’ attention.

Dr Jennings said he is disappointed but not surprised that 17,000 eligible but unregistered youths in the Central West are not having a say.

“One of the most prejudiced things you can have is being given the opportunity to have an active role in a democratic process but neglecting that.

“If you live in a country where there is no democratic process you would realise how valuable it is to actually have the right to vote. This is definitely something that needs to be addressed.”

However, the onus falls on both young people and politicians to be engaged with issues in order to stir interest. This is critical because youths will form the policies of the future and the more informed they are today, the better tomorrow will look.

“Not being able to relate to our leaders and not having policies that resonate with them [youths] turns people off from voting,” Dr Jennings said.

In addition to building his smartphone app, Dr Jennings is ensuring he is engaged with young people through door knocks and public forums.

Tune in to the See See Eye site at 4PM Friday for the Grassroots Politics live bulletin.


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