Critic tackles election year | Issue 12

The polling booth

For many of you, this will be your first election; and if youíre into politics enough to be reading this, thatís very exciting. Over the past couple of months, Iíve been picking brains and studying policy in an effort to present a few of the people who youíll have the opportunity to vote for. This week, Iím going to dial it back and focus on what youíll actually do on 20 September Ė vote. To do that, hereís a handy-dandy infographic on MMP, and a few things to help you mentally prepare yourself for that special Saturday. Hopefully youíll be able to find your way to the polling booth without much difficulty.

Enrol to vote
If youíve just turned 18, you probably will have received your voting papers in the mail. And hopefully, you will have filled them out. If you havenít, however, itís very easy to hop online to the elections website and get it all sorted. Youth disengagement is one of the biggest issues in politics, so by making sure youíre registered to vote youíll be set to have your say on election day.

Pick an electorate
For those of you who arenít Dunedin locals, you get a bit of a choice as to which electorate you can vote in. This is a fairly important consideration, as different electorates have different things at stake. If, for example, youíre from Auckland and your home address is in Epsom, you may have an interest in voting for National so ACT doesnít get the seat; conversely, if you hate everything about Epsom, you may want to vote in Dunedin North. Election day is during the semester, so have a think about where youíd like your electorate vote to go.

Get to know your MP
Itís surprisingly easy to have a chat with your local MPs, who often lurk around campus or nearby it, just waiting for young whippersnappers to ask them about their latest activity. Our local MP is David Clark, and heíll be up for re-election. Also vying for the Dunedin North spot will be Metiria Turei of the Greens, and Michael Woodhouse of the National Party (I interviewed him before he appeared on Vote Chat; his interview is on page 42). If theyíre not available in person, then theyíll definitely be reachable by email or Twitter, so there are no excuses for not getting to know at least one of them.

Decide who to vote for
This sounds a bit stupid, but itís obviously the most important thing you need to decide. Stray away from your parentsí preferences, investigate which party looks best for you, and donít feel obliged to vote for the electorate MP who belongs to your party. MMP means the composition of parliament is extremely diverse, and every vote counts. If thereís a particular issue you feel really strong about, investigate how the different parties feel. You may be surprised, and it may change the way you look at the election.
This article first appeared in Issue 12, 2014.
Posted 4:32pm Sunday 18th May 2014 by Carys Goodwin.