Daryl and Sofhia, both 21 years old, are registered voters. Same with Jean, 20, a newly registered voter who personally went to the COMELEC office and underwent on-site voter registration.
But Jonah and James, both 21 years old, are non-registered voters. They are still thinking whether to vote in 2022. They lack motivation that their vote can actually make a change.
They are only five of my friends, ages 20-21, who are part of the young voting population. But I see in them hesitation to practice their right to vote. Why?
Here are some causes that demotivate the majority of youth to vote:
1. Being vulnerable to crowded places.
The process of registration as a voter requires the applicants to be onsite. With the pandemic, we are at high risk of getting sick with COVID-19 if we are outdoors. “It is too risky. At times, protocols, like social distancing, are not followed. I see people wearing their face mask below their noses,” said Sofhia.
2. Voter registration is inconvenient and time consuming.
The process of completing the requirements for voter registration requires a lot of time and energy. Online appointment for voter registration could be done but internet access is a problem for many. Transportation cost to travel to the COMELEC office is also a problem for some.
“The barangay certificate and government issued ID are checked onsite. You need to fall in line in a COMELEC office. This consumes time, energy and money” Jean said as she recounted her experience.
3. Lack of encouragement among peers
Many young people are disillusioned that their vote will not count. “Most young people, including me, do not feel any sense of belongingness when it comes to political decisions in the country. That our vote won’t make a difference,” said James.
We need the younger generation to become more interested, and experience real opportunities. Stimulate them to participate in the political process and achieve solutions that can establish change. Their opinions should also be acknowledged.
4. Lack of candidate information
One important prerequisite to voting is sufficient knowledge about candidates. Knowing their past achievements or shortcomings allow voters to make a sound decision who to vote for. Nowadays, there seems to be a lack of important information about the candidates.
“Lack of information regarding the candidates will be a hindrance to them as well because some prefer not to vote than vote someone who could potentially be problematic,” said Jonah.
Voter education, especially among the young, must be intensified. The “woke” generation are a critical mass. Their votes must be counted.
Photo credit: Manila Bulletin Official Website