The informal vote

Terry Wilson is one of our panel and he has obviously got the polling bug. He's sent me an email about an informal poll that he conducted in his home town with young people. He finds that 82% of potential first time voters didn't actually vote. They also tended to favour Labor over the Coalition. If they had voted, and their vote had been similar in other electorates, it would probably have changed the result of the election.

Here is the letter.

Hi Graham,

Over the last couple of weeks I have conducted my own poll locally in Hervey Bay on over 600 people (in the car park) at our largest shopping centre. I did this as I know a lot of younger people who are close to me and on election night at a party at my place I was astounded by those younger people who should have voted but didn't.

During the night of the party I was amazed at the attitude of our younger people who all seemed to be motivated to civil disobedience by not voting so I started polling those young people at the party.

I only interviewed people aged from 18 - 30 out of curiosity.

What I found over the next few weeks was astounding - of the 600 people who I interviewed and who were eligible to vote only 72% did so.

Of those who did vote 51% voted Labor and the Coalition received 42% of the vote and all others received the rest of the local vote (Electorate of Hinkler)

I asked those who should have voted for the first time if they did actually vote and found that a staggering 82% of those kids DID NOT VOTE.

I then asked them Why they did not vote - I got a 100% response that they did not understand policics and therefore were not interested in it.

I then told them that they could be fined and asked them if they were fined for not voting would that motivate them to vote next time - I got a 93% yes vote.

I was also interested in every one who I interviewed if they voted along the lines of their upbringing and who their parents voted for - for those who gave me an answer 87% said they went along with their parents preferred party when casting their vote.

My last question to those I interviewed was - if you were actually taught our Parliamentry system of government at school would you understand it better and would you have then voted - in 34% of the answers some of those expressed a desire to lean more about our system of government and had actually went down to Brisbane as part of a school excursion to look at how the State Parliament works but the other 66% had not idea of how our government works.

I think this is absolutely the failure of all governments to have it a compulsory part of the Education curriculm and a must if voting is compulsory.

I think this would have made a huge difference on polling day if those younger people had voted and been educated on the Westminster system of Government.

I am going to send this email to Julia Gillard as well as I am appalled by the statistics in my local area and although I am not a professional pollster if the figures here in Hervey Bay - Hinkler were projected onto the other electorates I am sure the trend would continue.

Would be interesting to see this on a national basis, although the opportunity has probably passed because the further you get away from an event the more people shape their memories to mirror what they would have liked to have happened.

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0 #1 We cannot expect the school system to soJim Boswell 2010-11-02 09:12
We cannot expect the school system to solve every social issue. If what you have found is a general trend then it is a failure of the Political Parties.They are obviously not reaching the young people.

Also our "two Party system" has deteriorated to a level at which "rubbishing the other team" is more important than the future of Australia. The Parties do not present an image worth emulating or worthy of following. Both sides (and even the Greens) are more interested in tearing down the others than they are in building Australia.
Individual politicians are mostly great people, but the group is damaging our democracy.