2. Your vote can force politicians to listen

By: Charlotte Lever

Even though some politicians don’t always care about what young people believe in or value, they do care about their jobs - 100% of the time, every time.

They want you to vote for them so they are elected. To this end, politicians and political parties put a lot of time, money and effort into finding out everything they can about those who are voting for them, and marketing their policies to these voters.

This graph from the    Australian Electoral Commission    shows us what percentage of eligible voters actually voted in the 2013 Federal election by age group - the difference between how many eligible voters under 25 who vote, compared to those who are 50+ is huge. (Note: Graph has been edited to omit irrelevant information to this article).

This graph from the Australian Electoral Commission shows us what percentage of eligible voters actually voted in the 2013 Federal election by age group - the difference between how many eligible voters under 25 who vote, compared to those who are 50+ is huge. (Note: Graph has been edited to omit irrelevant information to this article).

The sad truth is...

If young people are not voting, political parties and candidates have less reason to pay attention to the concerns of young people or create policies that will benefit them.

On the other side of the coin...

If young people are turning out to vote politicians will have an incentive to be more inclusive of young people’s needs and appeal to the youth vote. So if you are sick of hearing about issues like negative gearing, or debates around a new super freeway in your city, get out to vote in your next local, State or Federal election and force those pollies to listen!

Credits:   PJEgingIV   /Tenor

Credits: PJEgingIV/Tenor

3. Your vote counts, even if you live in a safe seat

By: Charlotte Lever

CREDITS: John O’Neill/Wikipedia

CREDITS: John O’Neill/Wikipedia

Even if you live in a safe seat (an electorate that has been repeatedly won by a particular candidate or party), your vote still affects the outcome in the Federal Senate and many of the upper houses of the State parliaments (Australian Parliament follows a two-house or bi-cameral system).

In the Federal Senate, senators are elected a little differently. Each state receives 12 senators to represent them, while each territory receives 2 senators. To be elected, senators only need to receive a proportion or set number of votes from their state or territory to win a seat. This essentially means that a multitude of candidates will secure a senate seat, as long as they have received a certain portion of votes.

This often results in independent candidates or candidates from smaller parties winning seats, and therefore a diversity of political views in Parliament’s upper house. These senators then have the ability to debate and block Government legislation when it passes from the House of Representatives for approval into law.

When you hear about major parties having to negotiate with independents like Clive Palmer, Jacqui Lambi and Nick Xenophon in the Senate, this is exactly what is taking place.

Recent examples include:

So your vote is still influential in this way – even if you live in a safe seat, the party you vote for could get someone elected in the upper house. If you don’t agree with the political leadership of the day in Federal or State politics, you can vote for representatives with different views and they have a greater chance of getting elected. They can then challenge legislation on your behalf.

4. Your vote ensures the funding of future political campaigns

By: Charlotte Lever

If you live in a safe seat and don’t vote because the party you support isn’t going to be elected, then you’re effectively depriving them of the cash monies they could use to fund future campaigns. How?

The Australian Electoral Commission distributes approximately $2.60 in campaign funding for every vote received by candidates who get more than 4% of the primary vote. The situation is similar in most states where candidates and parties receive funding, which is calculated in part by how many first preference votes they have received.

The number of votes a party or candidate receives therefore dictates how much money they have to spend on subsequent elections, which determines their prospect of winning in the future. As such, if there are candidates you support or parties you want to see elected, your vote will give them a bigger war chest to fight future campaigns, especially if they are small or under-funded.

CREDITS: GIPHY

CREDITS: GIPHY



5. Are there really any ‘safe’ seats anymore?

By: Charlotte Lever

CREDITS: JJ HARRISON

CREDITS: JJ HARRISON

Forget what you’ve heard about ‘safe’ seats - recent elections have shown the concept of one political party winning in the same electorate over and over is increasingly a thing of the past.

For example:

  • In the 2015 NSW State election, the previously secure National Party seats of Ballina and Lismore witnessed massive swings away from the incumbents towards the Greens. While the sitting member for Lismore managed to hold onto his seat, a Greens representative went on to win Ballina for the first time in the electorate’s history.

  • At the same election, the Greens also won a seat in the newly created division of Newtown, a previously safe Labor area, and managed to re-elect a candidate in the electorate of Balmain, the birthplace of the NSW Labor Party.

  • Perhaps the best example is provided by Australia’s second longest ever serving Prime Minister John Howard, who lost his seat in 2007 after representing the people of Bennelong for thirty years.

  • More recently in October 2018, independent candidate Dr Kerryn Phelps won the historically safe Liberal seat of Wentworth (Malcolm Turnbull’s former seat), waging a grassroots campaign that focused on the Liberal Government’s lack of action on climate change.

CREDITS: GIPHY

CREDITS: GIPHY

Going into the 2019 Federal election, it looks as though there will be more challenges made to safe seats, with ex-Liberal MP Julia Banks to challenge her former colleague Greg Hunt for the seat of Flinders, and high-profile human rights lawyer Julian Burnside contesting the ‘blue ribbon’ seat of Kooyong with the Greens.

If there had not been a groundswell against the party or candidate that had held these seats for aeons, nothing would have ever changed. These shifts would not have been possible without people getting out there to vote. The above examples reveal that safe seats are a thing of the past. Politicians simply cannot take their electorate for granted - at least not anymore.


6. One vote can make a difference

By: Charlotte Lever

CREDITS: JOHN O’NEILL/WIKIPEDIA

CREDITS: JOHN O’NEILL/WIKIPEDIA

Nowadays it is much more common to see elections in all levels of Government that are extremely close.

Gone are the days of the landslide victory – many elections are determined by a small number of votes in a handful of seats.

Take the 2016 Federal election:

Taking what we already know about the number of young people who are not even enrolled to vote and adding the fact that many marginal seats have been decided by under 1000 votes, it becomes even clearer that the votes of young people really can determine the outcome of seats and elections.

If this trend continues, we might even see a repeat of the 1919 Federal election, in which the Nationalist Party defeated Labor in Ballarat by just one vote!

CREDITS: GIPHY

CREDITS: GIPHY

Young people will heavily influence the outcome of the 2019 federal election:

ICYMI: Youth enrolment is at an all time high. There are many electorates where the margins are small and the youth population is large (up to 25% of the electorate).

Triple j has analysed some of they seats where young people hold the most power.

Don’t know what ‘seat’ or electorate you live in? Check out our Enrolment Essentials & Election Prep article to get this sorted.

7. It affects your life AND the issues you care about

By: Charlotte Lever

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If the past few Federal elections are anything to go by, future elections will be fought over issues that truly affect young people.

As voters, we are continually faced with competing visions about how Australia should deal with fundamental issues from all sides of politics, including climate change, negative gearing, minimum wages, tertiary education and unemployment – amongst many more. The subtext underpinning many of these issues, especially in the way they affect young people, is intergenerational equity – that is, whether young people get a fair go now and in the future.

The same can be said for the issues that underpin recent State elections.

During the Victorian state election campaign of 2018, the focus was on how political parties proposed to deal with problems of population, transport and infrastructure. These are issues that have an impact on our daily lives and will affect us into the future. There is no doubt that upcoming elections will be waged over issues that affect young people.

This gives us an opportunity to reward the parties that recognise the value of the youth vote and speak to the issues we care about, and out the candidates who ignore us.

Click here to read about how your vote makes a difference in local government.


8. It’s easy and super quick

By: Charlotte Lever

CREDITS: PRISCILLA DU PREEZ/UNSPLASH

CREDITS: PRISCILLA DU PREEZ/UNSPLASH

Enrolling to vote and voting is surprisingly easy.

For Federal and State elections, all you need to do is attend a local polling place, which is normally located in a school, church hall or public building, and cast your vote. Often there are options to vote early if you can’t make it on the day.

To enrol to vote or to check your enrolment, visit the AEC website. You enrol with the AEC for Federal, State and Local government elections, so once you’ve enrolled once, you’re ready to go!

Check out our ‘Enrolment Essentials and Election Prep’ here for a run down on everything from getting enrolled to finding out what to expect on election day.

It may be a little difficult to keep up with when all the different elections will be taking place. The AEC website usually posts information on upcoming elections, or you can check the details for State elections on each state electoral commission website, which we’ve posted for you below.

In other words, it’s so easy to vote that you have no excuse not to. Also, if you’re voting, don’t miss out on the honoured Australian tradition of a post-vote sausage sizzle or cake stall.

Lucky for us, democracysausage.org has created a website dedicated to mapping each and every sausage sizzle and cake stall at each polling place on Federal and State election days, which you can search by location. You’re welcome.

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But what are we missing?

After reading these facts about voting, you might feel like you now have a reason to enrol, or vote in your next Federal, State or local election. And that’s great!

But you may be thinking that you still don’t know the basics of how politics and democracy work in Australia, how we can make politics work better for young people, or even which candidate or party represents your views. And that’s fair enough.

Voting isn’t going to solve everything but, it’s a super important (and easy) place to begin.

Y Vote is here to help with all the other stuff too!

Over the next couple of months we will be sharing information on these topics and much more, including some breakdowns of the policy positions of key parties and candidates going into the 2019 Federal election. We will also be sharing some tools you can use to help figure out who to vote for. We’ll be posting these to our Facebook page and sending them through our mailing list, which you can join by Pledging to Vote below.