7 Sep 2014

Most unregistered voters under 30

2:54 pm on 7 September 2014

The Electoral Commission says turning around declining voter turnout will need a lot of effort.

Two weeks out from the election, 90 per cent of the overall population is enrolled. Of the remaining 10 percent yet to enrol, more than half (60 percent) are under 30.

Of the total number of people under 30-year-olds who are eligible to vote, about a quarter - 200,000 - are not yet enrolled.

Chief electoral officer Robert Peden said while New Zealand is doing well internationally, participation has fallen from very high rates in the 1980's.

He said the turnout rates are declining steeply compared to other countries, and there are still challenges engaging with people to get them to vote.

Mr Peden said non-voters say they are too busy, not interested in politics, or do not think their vote will matter.

But young candidates in the coming election believe it is a myth that young people are apathetic. They said existing politicians were to blame for many young people ignoring the poll.

Six young candidates were asked why on a Radio New Zealand debate this morning.

One of them, James Maxwell of United Future, insisted the fault lay with politicians who spent so much time quarrelling that many young people don't want to have much to do with them.

Jack McDonald of the Greens argued young people do not trust the political process, largely because of the parties' habit of disregarding their manifestos after they are elected.

Heleyni Pratley of Internet Mana said young people's apathy was a myth, and responsibility lay with the present government doing nothing to encourage them to enrol.