Why Is Voting Important In A Democratic Society

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Voting is a vital component of a democratic society. Despite this, there are a significant amount of people who do not do so. Once a place of incredibly high voter turnout, New Zealand in recent years has taken a remarkable shift in the other direction. Only by understanding which groups of people do not vote and why they choose to do so, can we take the best initiative in changing the path we are going down.
The reduction in voter turnout has not occurred across the board. Particular groups of people are significantly less likely to vote, or be enrolled, than others. Most broadly, ethnic minorities, especially Maori, and young people, generally considered under the age of 29, are those least represented as a proportion of their relative size
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There are serious impacts on the quality of representation we have of society within our Parliament and the type of policy passing through it. If only certain groups vote then policy presented by the parties would be more likely to be aimed towards those groups. Electorally, there is more to gain from these sectors in society. An example of this is the Gold Card presented by Winston Peters and the NZ First party, policy directly aimed at the largest voting bloc, those aged 65+. If the participation of groups which already typically vote less, Maori and youth, continues to decline, more policy will be aimed at older non-Maori (Fowler 2013). Less attention will be given to other groups and will further add to the disaffection partially resulting in this low participation to begin with, resulting only in more damage to New Zealand democracy in the long run. Lack of accurate representation within Parliament is also a prominent issue that could be associated with low voter turnout in certain groups. The average age of a Member of Parliament is 50 (Edwards 2015), while the average age over the entire population is significantly younger at 38 (Census 2013). A Parliament which is as representative as possible of the whole of New Zealand would be more likely to be adept at developing and enacting policy for the benefit of the entire country. It is not …show more content…
By making voting compulsory and instituting a fine for not doing so a significant incentive is placed against not voting. While an argument could be made that it is a person’s democratic right to choose not to vote, an inherent component of the correct operation of democracy is that citizens do so. The choice to not select a candidate, and spoil the ballot, would still be an option. Australia is the most relevant example for New Zealand of compulsory voting due to our similar culture and history. In the 2004 Australian Federal election, 94% of the enrolled population turned out to vote (Evans 2006), a rate much higher than New Zealand and much of the Western world. As a result of this, there is a greater focus on youth-based policy within the Government than traditionally seen in other nations (Fowler 2013), an issue within New Zealand

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