Voter virginity campaign targets young voters

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 17:26 20/08/2014
Virgin Voter Collective

Guy Williams talking young people voting

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Give up your virginity, your voter virginity that is.

Comedian Guy Williams is backing an online pitch, launched today, to get first time voters to the ballot box at next month’s general election.

Three out of five young kiwis did not bother to vote at the last elections and Williams, 26, recalls losing his voter virginity then. 

"I was amazed at how easy it was to vote," he says. "I had a friend who hadn't voted and I was so annoyed I drove him to a voting booth and he enrolled and voted in five minutes. . . .

"If we don't solve it we'll end up with a county being run by older people who are dying off and young people having no say in how it's run." 

Olympic BMX medallist Sarah Walker adds to the pitch in a video out today urging people to vote.

“I think voting is a wheelie good idea so head down to the track to give big air this election,” she says as she puzzles over the cue sheet.

“That doesn’t even make sense.”

To ease the stress of becoming a voting adult, new web-based app “Candidate” has been launched today to help voters find a date for this year’s election at www.candidate.co.nz

Candidate asks touch-screen users to swipe right or left if they agree or disagree with a series of policies and then suggests a party “match.” 

Like a dating app, Candidate is designed to give the user a first impression of party policies across eight issues that matter to young people, and get them interested enough to find out more prior to the election.

Canterbury student Hannah Duder, 22, came up with the idea.

“None of my friends voted last election,” she says. 

“And when I asked them why, most of them said they simply didn’t know who the political parties were and what they stood for.”

She pitched her idea to entrepreneur Derek Handley and won $10,000 from his Handley Foundation to turn the idea into action.

To get past boring jargon and political speech, she came up with the app that is fun to use and provides an impression with what the parties are doing in areas of importance to young voters.

The nine hot topics that mattered to those between 18 and 24 included students loans, unemployment, public transport and the affordability of healthcare and housing. 

Duder drew together a group of experts to form the Virgin Voter Collective ( http://www.virginvoter.co.nz ) to devise the app in 50 days. 

Among those in the collective are comedians Rose Matafeo and Tim Batt, gossip columnist Pebbles Hooper and Student Army founder Sam Johnson.

They hope to persuade an extra 18,000 18-to-24-year-olds to vote next month.

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