Photo by The Brisbane Times.
Today, I voted in my first election.
Well, not quite today, more like last week since I’m currently not in my home state for the state election so I had to cast a postal vote. But details aside. Today I helped to shape the future of my state by numbering all the boxes and voting in candidates representing parties with policies I trusted, for the first time in my adult life.
I know I was excited about this. I’d been sitting back, too young to vote for too long while governments I didn’t like were voted in, and I couldn’t do anything about it. But now I can.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same for many people my age voting in their first election. Far too many people I know cast a “donkey vote”, drew male anatomy on the ballot papers, or just didn’t vote at all. I saw complaining – complaining about compulsory voting, complaining about the government screwing us over, complaining about people posting their political opinion, complaining about people complaining… But what I saw most of all was a complete disregard for the importance that one person’s vote can make.
In a state of 3 million people, it’s easy to think that one vote isn’t going to decide it all, so why bother? Why bother even having a political opinion other than “everyone is going to screw us over anyway”? These young people have such a mentality that they attack anyone who voices their political views on social media, because how dare a young person be politically active and care about who leads the government? Sure, some people can be a little too strong with their opinions and begin forcing it down the throats (eyes?) of anyone on their Facebook friends list, but unlike most young people, that person cares. That person has looked into the policies of a party and agreed with them, and has decided to back them in the election. Good on them.
One girl from my high school is very politically active and has dined with local members and approached them about their opinions on topics important to her, such as same sex marriage and support for those with mental health issues. Having found a member that shares her views, she began to post about the importance of numbering the boxes, putting her member first, and the LNP last. Every single post of hers in the lead up to the election has been criticized, shut down and ultimately overrun by those who don’t care about the political issues in our state, telling her to stop posting about politics. Solution? Delete her off Facebook and never hear of it again. Simple. But of course, that’s not what they do.
I’m sick of young people being belittled and attacked for having a political voice. I’m sick of young people not caring about the government enough to write a number on a sheet and put it in a box. I’m sick of feeling afraid to post my own political views online because of the backlash it may receive from others my age.
Why should we be scared to have a voice? To want to make a change? To inform others of the wrongs of some parties they may not have noticed yet? Can first-time voters stop only seeing inside their little personal bubble enough to care about the health of the state for one day?
I have a voice. I am a young voter, and my opinions matter. My vote counts, and can ultimately decide a close election. I can post my political views wherever I want – starting now.
My vote was for ALP and The Greens, the parties I believe will make a positive difference to the state of Queensland. Goodbye, Campbell Newman and the LNP.