There are 16,500 people in Northland who are eligible to vote but don't want to, and aren't enrolled.

That's 3.6 per cent of the national total of 450,000.

In our region 4700 people aged 18-24 are not enrolled - that's 65 per cent of all of our 18 to 24-year-olds in Northland.

The national average is just under 64 per cent, so we're not doing that bad comparably.


But it's a massive number of young people disengaged from central government politics.

Radio NZ reported this week that Electoral Commission youth advocates in Kaikohe were finding it challenging to sign up young voters.

They weren't informed and didn't really care.

The advocates are also targeting voters of the near-future - 15 to 17-year-olds.

Chelsea Wihongi, a Kaikohe-based youth voting advocate, told Radio NZ, "We're just sort of planting that seed for when voting comes around next.

"And then for the 17-plus we are enrolling them, and we're just sort of helping them understand why they should vote."

We should also be asking why young people don't vote, and what would it take to get them to vote.

Because it's an important voice that is not being heard. Adults can hypothesise all we like about why young people don't vote.

We know we aren't connecting with the youth voice politically - the question is why?

Would online voting make a difference, for example? It would, and it would be great to see this trialled at local government level.

It would certainly alter the demographic of our district councils, which would be a good thing.

But changing the mode of registering a vote is only one thing.

Until we understand why young people don't feel a need to have a say in their communities, and their country, we could log votes by carrier pigeon and it still wouldn't make much difference.

But at the moment, we are running a country based on what a group of adults disconnected from the youth vote think. No wonder they don't vote.