Tech generation want online voting

A Massey University survey shows that youth are more likely to participate if voting was made more convenient.

Marlborough's young voters would be more motivated to participate in September's general election if the voting was online, a Blenheim youth councillor says.

Jonathan Cash was responding to Massey University research which revealed a survey showing more young people would chose to vote online over a $50 payment incentive.

The survey, which was conducted by academics and students from the university's politics programme, targeted 18- to 24-year-old students to gauge their attitudes to the upcoming general election.

Of the respondents who indicated they did not intend to vote, 75 per cent said they would be more likely to vote if online voting was introduced, while only 51 per cent said they would be motivated by a $50 payment.

Marlborough youth councillor Jonathan Cash, 17, said voting should move with technology.

"Voting online will encourage a lot of youth within the tech generation to vote," Jonathan said.

"You can already register to vote online, this is another step forward," he said. "It could be risky but with technology these days there are methods of verification that can be done. A lot of teens who vote are open about who they vote for anyway."

Cash could not pinpoint why there was a realm of disenchanted youth votes.

There were no burning issues that angered young people but he urged people to vote regardless.

"You really can't complain if you don't vote. Every vote counts. Eventually each young person will grow up to be a parent and have a family and will be affected by government decisions, good or bad."

Massey University politics lecturer Dr Damien Rogers said the results reflected the level to which technology shaped the lives of young people.

"Among our 288 responders we have a high level of technological literacy and there's a sense that they want voting to be made as convenient as everything else in their lives."

But politics programme colleague Associate Professor Richard Shaw warned online voting alone was unlikely to be the silver bullet that fixed declining participation levels among young voters.

"Online voting would help - but we should be careful to make sure the solutions match the problems.

"Amongst young people - and also amongst other groups who tend not to vote, including some migrant communities, and people who are either poor and/or who have not spent many years in formal education - the critical things are to demystify the voting process and to make politics relevant," Shaw said.

"The technology alone won't solve that problem - but . . . it's really important we don't let a generation of potential voters drift away from politics."

The Marlborough Express