It is important for young people to vote in this election

D.Reid writes for us on why young people should vote today

Important is a huge understatement. It is vital and not doing so is hypocrisy. When I walked into school the day after EU referendum, everyone was talking about what this meant and what would happen next. Classes had been debating for weeks about whether the UK was stronger inside or outside of the Europe Union. Then, as autumn rolled in, everyone on social media (especially young people) were going crazy over US election memes. And when the RHI revelations were coming thick and fast, Martin McGuinness resigned and the Assembly basically imploded, this political chaos did not go unnoticed by young people. And yet the youth turnout for the EU referendum was low and Northern Ireland had the lowest turnout of any region overall.

I’m a few months too young to get a vote this time around, so I resent anyone who can’t be bothered using theirs. Perhaps it’s easier to rant online than nip out and vote on the 2nd of March, but it’s also significantly less likely to change anything. And if this is all part of a “protest” then please continue to tell yourself that if (or when) mayhem breaks out on the hill again.

The future is ours. Short of mass emigration, young people are inheriting the country that we build on the 2nd of March, whether we want to or not. We are the lawyers and the doctors and the teachers and politicians (hopefully the improved versions) of the future. So much is at stake – our healthcare system, our schools, our universities, our farms, our public transport and all the other things your 3am Facebook posts suggest you care so much about. So, prove it. Prove that you have an opinion. Prove that you aren’t happy with what we’ve got. Or, alternatively, you may think that Stormont couldn’t be better, in which case I would wonder if you really have been living under a rock since devolution began. But no one’s going to value your opinion if you sit at home and sulk about how the system is skewed against your generation.

Not being able to vote is a pain, but I’ve tried not to let it hold me back. I was paranoid that my family wouldn’t be registered and urged them all (strongly) to check with the Electoral Office. I also left instructions for what they should say if a politician canvasses our house when I’m not at home (I considered taking a few weeks off  to sit at the front door and wait for one of the chancers to come around and throw in a leaflet before running away but I feel that this would be quite an ineffective way to question the candidates).

It’s the ultimate reality show: vote for the ones that you like, but most importantly, vote to get the ones you hate knocked out. But this is even more essential viewing than the X Factor final and the voting’s easy. So, use your vote, wisely or unwisely, but use it.


  • Gopher

    “We are the lawyers and the doctors and the teachers and politicians”

    They are also the cleaners, the drivers, the soldiers, the labourers, the chefs, the waiters and mechancis. Doctors, lawyers, Teachers and politicians earn a very good living off our backs. Twenty years of devolved government and a single car in Belfast yesterday brought our lives to a halt, meanwhile the empty buses glide by. Voting, its overated.

  • Lucian Fletcher

    Aw man. Don’t kill his/her enthusiasm for voting before he/she reaches age of majority.

    Voting might be overrated, but it’s a lot better than the alternative.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Doctors, lawyers, Teachers and politicians earn a very good living off our backs.”

    Gopher, do you imagine that we can somehow do without medicine, law and order, education or some administrative structure? Of course we do not need people cluttering up these professions as time servers, but we do all need good, committed people doing these things in a spirit of public service, and “living of our backs” to organise a community which we will all benefit from.

    Oh, and more historians…….

  • burnboilerburn

    At what time tonight are we likely to get a final turnout figure?

  • Damien C

    I was quite taken back this morning with the girl who served me breakfast. I casually asked if she was voting and she replied “I have to – I really don’t want a United Ireland”. She was in her twenties and genuinely worried about the prospect. Arlene’s “Project Fear” does work!

  • Gopher

    I don’t believe I said we could do without any but as you say Seaan we can do without their incapacity to move with the times. As for History our Devolved administration does not really compete. Twenty years after complete destruction Japan and Germany were powerhouses, twenty years after 1870 France enjoyed La Belle Époque. The list is quite endless from Carthage to the Southern United States. Perhaps voting just does not work in Northern Ireland.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I’d imagine we both concur on deploring the stasis of Stormont, for as you say, a lot could have ben achieved in 20 years.

    As you almost certainly know, I blame that sharp right turn into a dead end in 1912 away from the “Golden age” constitutionalism of the Third Home Rule Bill, as we appear to have inherited almost insurmountable problems from that one recourse to violence now writ large, but life must go on even here in one of history’s waiting rooms, and these poor children must be trained as professionals to administer a community trapped in its own version of suspended animation! Perhaps some day voting will finally work…..but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Gopher

    I was not around in 1912 and I imagine you weren’t either and the GFA means crying about it is now null and void. That’s the trouble in Northern Ireland too many people and their pet parties live in the past.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear Gopher, I’d not taken you for another of these cultural amnesiacs! I grew up around enough people who were around in 1912 to get a pretty accurate insider picture of what occued, which inoculated me against the “grand narrative” versions current with every political camp. Not so much “living in the past” as recognising that any of these encoded patterns need to be understood fully and then addressed for they will not just go away because you hold your hands over your eyes (historically speaking, of course). The reason “voting doesn’t work” is because people believe some rather mendacious political myths and only giving an accurate historical dimension to such things will ever open their eyes.

  • Gopher

    We are where we are which ls 2017 last time I looked, if you want to spend your time herding cats trying to sort out how we got here rather than moving forward that’s your perogative, Me I’m just trying to work out what any politician has done in the last 20 years to give them my time and effort to vote for them. Keep fighting 1912 Seann.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    ” Me I’m just trying to work out what any politician has done in the last 20 years”….

    Re-run 1912, insist on its all important role, and the need to defend this, until someone shows them effectively that it was a wrong call and pulls us all out of that swamp someone is talking about draining, but I entirely respect your choice to forget everything more than a few days old and simply critique the stasis without understanding why…..

    But, rather than “de-rail” let us listen to what others have to say about the need for the young to vote!

  • Gavin86

    I would say that the counts will be finished by 3am, the boxes don’t arrive at the count centres until 10.30pm at the very earliest. The count should be a lot quicker as there are less candidates running and less seats to fill.

  • Zorin001

    Do we get an exit poll at 10pm? Can’t remember from last year

  • Gavin86

    I think it works by a tally of the ballot papers cast in each box, and then figures are calculated by the electoral office at each centre.

  • Reader

    SeaanUiNeill: Re-run 1912, insist on its all important role, and the need to defend this, until someone shows them effectively that it was a wrong call and pulls us all out of that swamp someone is talking about draining…
    Since we don’t have a time machine we cannot put your plan into effect. We are where we are, and we move forward from here and now or not at all.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And to move forward…and not simply end up running up yet another cul de sac…one requires a map, Gopher. Simple, really. It really helps to understand the landscape.

  • Reader

    #1 son is somewhat disenchanted with the parties on offer and tends to vote Green (I am so disappointed). Fortunately, aggressive Green leafletting at the Ballyholme polling station cost them his vote yesterday. Well done, chaps.