Advanced voting available in the link

Eager students and MPs gather in the link to cast their vote

Voting in the 2014 General Election kicked off last Wednesday with advanced voting now available to all New Zealanders. This year, all voters have the opportunity to cast their votes earlier than the official Election Day, 20 September. Previously, a valid reason to vote early was required.

In Dunedin North, students and the General Public were able to vote in the University of Otago’s Link. Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei kicked off the process by casting her own vote as soon as booths opened. Young Greens and other party members joined her in doing so. Turei said that advanced voting was a “fantastic opportunity” for students. “Student votes are critical, not just for the Greens, but for the country as a whole. Students will have control of this country in just a few years’ time and we want people to be as engaged as possible in the elections.”

Dunedin North National MP Michael Woodhouse also attended the event, commenting that it was “amazing to see how many people were taking the opportunity [to vote early].” “As we know, voter turnout in general has been dropping in the last few elections,” said Woodhouse. “I think now that [voters have] 17 days to cast their vote, it leaves them with no excuses and every opportunity.” Woodhouse urged students and the greater public to partake in this year’s general election, stating that, “If people aren’t voting in the first two or three opportunities, they tend to be disengaged forever.” “I get a lot of people saying ‘it’s only one vote, it doesn’t really affect me,’ and that’s not true at all,” he commented. Woodhouse has decided not to personally make an early vote, saying he “enjoys being part of the ritual” of General Election Day.

Dunedin North Labour MP David Clark said, “Students generally have more to gain or lose with their votes” than the general population. “The decisions that are made by the next government will affect [students] longer than it will affect other voters … [2014] is the most important vote they will make in their lifetime.” Clark says he is also intending to cast an early vote. Labour Leader David Cunliffe cast his own vote on the first day, too.

Julian Crawford, University of Otago alumni and leader of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, agreed the scheme was a brilliant idea: “It gives people a bit of flexibility with their voting.” Crawford said that he wishes to encourage people to participate in the democratic process and that “student votes are really important.”

OUSA President Ruby Sycamore-Smith, who helped organise the advanced voting to be available in the Link, said, “I think that students should really take the opportunity to actually get up there and have their say.” She tells students, “It’s good to educate yourself and actually realise how much the government affects your day to day life, and realise that you can have a say in your future and be part of the change you want. I think it’s important to strengthen your voice and realise the power that you have as a student.”

If you are not yet enrolled, with an early vote you can enrol on the day too. Just bring your ID to the Link between now and Election Day.
This article first appeared in Issue 22, 2014.
Posted 11:52pm Sunday 7th September 2014 by Laura Munro.