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New election date gives young voter enrolments a boost, but many have still not registered

August 17, 2020

New election date gives young voter enrolments a boost, but many have still not registered

SOCIAL POLITICS: Political fan and new first-time voter George Edwards’ in a photo from his social media with Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick. Photo: Supplied

The new general election date is a surprise birthday present for 1336 first-time voters, including George Edwards.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the election will now be held on October 17, due to concerns the Covid-19 level three lockdown in Auckland.

George Edwards turns 18 on September 22, three days after the general election was originally going to be held and he is now looking forward to being able to vote for the first time in October.

“I was just stoked. I went straight on Twitter,” he told Te Wahanui.

Edwards has been a member of Young Labour in Ōtaki electorate since his 15th birthday and enrolled to vote on his 17th birthday.

He also worked for the Electoral Commission for a time.

“That’s how passionate I am about politics. I was just so excited,” George said.

Edwards said the biggest issue facing younger voters this election was the cannabis legalisation and control referendum.

“It’s good to have an input. It’s a big issue,” he said.

Edwards said while older people might have an opinion on cannabis, it was younger people who were more likely to be concerned about it affecting their futures.

“It will get rid of that barrier. A lot of teenagers are worried about having it on their criminal record.”

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said all 17-year-olds who turn 18 between September 20 and October 17 will now be eligible to vote in the general election.

This includes those who turn 18 on election day itself.

The spokesperson said the Electoral Commission maintains a provisional roll of those enrolled aged 17, and automatically switches them onto the general roll when they turn 18.

“Currently, there are 10,639 17-year-olds on the provisional roll. Of these, 1,336 will turn 18 between the old and new election dates,” he said.

The commission strongly encourages young people to enrol ahead of Election Day.

“Anyone who is eligible to vote can for the first time enrol on election day,” he said.

“Currently, there are 162,523 18-to-24-year-olds who have not enrolled. That’s equal to 37.08 per cent of the estimated 450,500 individuals in this age group who are eligible to vote.”

Overseas voting will begin on September 30, with advance voting open for two weeks prior to Election Day.

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