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Will young people decide the result of the federal election?

With the federal election coming up on 21 May, do you know who you’re voting for? This year it might be even more important than ever for you to take the election seriously and make an informed choice.

As Deakin University politics expert, Dr Amy Nethery, explains, this year’s election is expected to be incredibly close – and the deciding factor might end up being young people.

If it’s your first time voting, or even if you went through it all three years ago, there might be a lot of questions on your mind before you decide. How does the voting process even work? Will your vote even make a realistic difference? Do you get a snag with tomato sauce or mustard or both?

We chatted to Dr Nethery for the answers.

Why should I even care about politics?

While some young people don’t put a lot of thought into politics and don’t care who wins the election, Dr Nethery urges young voters and first-time voters to take a strong interest in the election and take their vote seriously.

‘If young people turn out and they take their vote seriously it could change the outcome of this very close election,’ she says.

In recent years, young voters have taken an interest in issues clouding the future of the country, such as climate change and social issues such as LGBTI rights including same sex marriage.

‘The voter turnout for the same sex marriage plebiscite was really high amongst young people, they’re concerned about these issues as well as environmental issues like climate change,’ Dr Nethery says.

If you’re struggling to work out who to vote for, it pays to tap into your opinions on issues such as these and see which candidates best reflect your values.

What’s the prediction for this year’s election?

‘The election will be super close it will likely be a hung parliament,’ Dr Nethery predicts. She’s not the only one making this suggestion.

But what does a hung parliament actually mean?

As Dr Nethery explains, a hung parliament is when neither major party is able to make up a government without the support of independents.

‘A hung parliament is where two major parties cannot make a government in their own right, as they don’t have enough seats to govern in their own right,’ Dr Nethery explains.

‘So they have to team up with independents who give them their support in exchange for action on certain policy areas. This requires the major parties to negotiate before they can form government.’

What does this mean for my vote?

Since a hung parliament is predicted, Dr Nethery suggests the result of the election might come down to the number of young people who take their vote seriously.

‘There are a lot of electorates around Australia that can be swung if young people turn out to vote and don’t draw penises. In the past there has been some electorates where the candidate won by 200 votes, yet 1300 people in that electorate drew penises,’ she says.

The most important ranking on your voting slip is who you place second. Each party will hand out ‘how to vote’ cards to encourage people to follow what they say, but you don’t have to follow what the party suggests.

Whoever you put down as your second selection won’t impact who you place as your first selection, Dr Nethery explains.

‘If you vote greens first, you will still vote greens first. However, when the greens candidate gets knocked out, they then go to everyone’s votes again and allocate the slips in according to who you placed number two.’

How should I choose who to vote for?

Dr Nethery urges you to follow those who are in running for your local seat, and even speaking to them if you have the chance.

‘Listen to the people who are running in your electorate, look them up online, speak to them if you see them around at places like the train station,’ she recommends.

Dr Nethery suggests heading to the Australian Electoral Commission website for any questions or concerns you have about placing your vote. The ABC’s vote compass is also a really helpful tool to use.

‘The Australian Electoral Commission is a great place to go to find out how to vote. The ABC vote compass is also really helpful, it will tell you where you align in terms of your values and concerns,’ she explains.

With the election quickly approaching it’s important to do your research and take your vote seriously. Your vote may just shake up the election and our future.

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Dr Amy Nethery
Dr Amy Nethery

Senior Lecturer,

Faculty of Arts and Education,

Deakin University

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