The lost Vote

In all times of election, many statistics and studies come up about voting. Why do people vote a certain way? why don’t people vote? or why does certain groups of people skew one way politically. All these statistics could prove important to political analysts and even those running for election, but what can we do with it? The simple answer i feel is, self evaluation. We can use these studies to judge ourselves as groups of people and see if we should re evaluate parts of our thinking and decision making. This article will be a simple look into a few reasons why the youth of Sri Lanka don’t vote or may not take an active interest into the politics of the country.

The youth vote across many countries, not only Sri Lanka, is known to be low .Based on the observations of different countries as well as general public attitudes, this is often due to one of a few common reasons.

1) They believe the electoral system is corrupt and is not a good vehicle for political renewal

2) They believe their vote doesn’t count for anything and will not affect the final results

3) They have no knowledge of the individuals running for elections/policies

4) The registration and voting process is too tedious to engage in

A prevailing suggestion in most studies done into this topic would be to encourage young people to train in and manage electoral processes so as to be involved with them from their youth. This could mean directing them to platforms where they could receive this training and so develop in this area as well as be more civic conscious

But what we can do, is provide a simple platform to increase youth engagement in politics and so increase the youth vote of this country using the following methods.

Inform

One prevalent issue seen in some groups of youth today is though they have access to so much knowledge they still do not know:

The policies of parties

The candidates campaigning to be elected from each party

The process of election

How much of this country is truly youth, and thereby how much their vote actually counts

Equip

Young people also may not have the resources to obtain this knowledge, for example we may provide news or information through social media but any young person in this country without access to social media will not receive it.

Or if someone is newly becoming socially aware and wants a way to learn of the ongoing political situation there may not be a platform which can inform them of this, which is what we can provide

Young people should also be equipped to vote with the necessary information about the candidates as well as knowledge on the registration process and the voting process itself, to be interested and follow the elections

Furthermore if they believe there is corruption in politics they must be empowered and realize they do have the power the change the way things are done and the only way to do that is to vote or go into parliament themselves.

Support

With making informed choices as well as again, the process of elections and any questions or concerns they have

Strategies for Engagement

To do all of this we must find an appealing, and efficient way to engage youth on these topics and nurture their interest in political dialogue

1) Youth involvement in voter registration campaigns

Youth can be encouraged to be involved in registration campaigns and we can put them in touch with the people who can actually get them involved in these campaigns

2) Social media campaigns

As many young people may be more active on social media more than any other form of media, this would be the perfect place to spread awareness about the importance of voting, and making informed decisions about it.

3) Political dialogue

Engaging the Youth in politically based dialogue and discuss different ideologies and principals and also to tie them into different political parties, furthering their understand of our countries current political climate

4) Speaking with other young people in politics

If other youth who have gone into politics could speak to any young people we gather, it could show them the way to actually engage in politics and inspire them to be involved in their parties as well as encourage other young people to vote.

5) Encouraging youth to make a commitment to vote and then to follow up with them

It’s been shown that when people agree beforehand to vote or take part in something they are more likely to do so and we can also remind them of this commitment when the time comes to vote (E.g. certain members sign their names up as a commitment to vote and also encourage as many of their friends as possible to vote, when election time comes we send them a simple message reminding them of their commitment)

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