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.