EVoting could increase youth voter turnout in local elections

Introducing eVoting could have a positive effect on increasing voter turnout among young people, a University of Otago study suggests.

Study participants say an app that listed candidate information and allowed eVoting directly may not only increase the convenience of voting but potentially increase youth voting numbers.

Kyle Whitfield imageDr Kyle Whitfield

Dr Kyle Whitfield, Doctor of Business Administration graduate of the Otago Business School surveyed 18 to 24-year-olds and also used focus groups of young people in his research.

New Zealand’s low youth voter turn-out numbers aren’t unlike other countries, this issue does hinder having a healthy democracy and needs to be resolved, Dr Whitfield believes “Low voter turnout amongst 18 to 24-year-olds can undermine the political process,” he says.

“Lack of information, the feeling that local elections are ‘second order’ elections and the feeling that youths have no actual influence over the political process, ultimately produces these low turn-outs.”

For the study, Dr Whitfield investigated whether young people would be more encouraged to vote if eVoting was available, voting was compulsory, or if there was a reduction in the voting age.

He found eVoting appeals to young people and could increase their turnout; that youth felt divided about compulsory voting; and that they were opposed to reducing the voting age to 16 based on the belief that this age is too young.

Other research insights revealed youth felt they were not receiving enough information to make knowledgeable decisions; more than 90 per cent of participants felt they should have been better educated on the importance of their civic rights; and 17 of the contributors mentioned they knew nothing about politics, voting or government operations.

Publication details

Local government and youth voter turnout: Obstacles and solutions for Aotearoa New Zealand (PDF)

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