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Enrolment push amid election apathy

Published: 11:29AM Sunday May 04, 2008 Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

A survey has revealed some alarming levels of apathy about this year's election.

The study found 55% of Pacific Islanders, 45% of Asians and 41% of Maori didn't know that an election is being held this year.
The electoral enrolment centre has budgeted almost $4 million to sign up new voters and remind those already on the roll to check their details.

Almost three million enrolment packs are being posted out this week to people who are already signed up to vote but it seems that many people don't even know there is going to be an election.

The Electoral Enrolment Centre says almost 240,000 people are not enrolled to vote and national manager Murray Wicks says around 50% of those are youth.

"The particular group which are less engaged in electoral matters are Maori, Pacifica, Asian people and of course youth," says Wicks.

Enrolment ambassador Mabel Wharekawa-Burt says young people need to get involved and have their say.

She says she has come across apathy and others need to overcome their suspicions about the political process.

"They really have no confidence in the political system of this country," Wharekawa-Burt says.

Wicks acknowledges that nearly a quarter of a million unenrolled citizens is a big hurdle to overcome.

He says everyone should have received their pack in the post by Thursday, and that people who still want one delivered can enrol online.

Currently the area with the highest number of enrolled voters is the National stronghold of Waimate while the lowest enrolment is in the Manukau electorate of Mangere.

The Maori Party has endorsed the new enrolment campaign. Co-leader Dr Pita Sharples says the proportion of New Zealanders registered to vote is a key marker of participation in the democratic process.

"A big interest for us is to restore confidence and trust amongst our young, about the opportunities to contribute politically."

Co-leader Tariana Turia said the party would start a week long policy tour across the Waiariki and Te Tai Hauauru electorates, encouraging their constituencies to join the process.