As we prepare to look at the first results, what clues do we have about young voter numbers?
The idea of a youthquake has gained currency across this election, spurred by the evidence that young people appear motivated by Labour leader Jacinda Ardern, talk of a generational tide, and reference to the achievement of Jeremy Corbyn and the UK Labour leader (though, to repeat myself, it’s worth remembering that the UK youth surge was overstated by many, and that Corbyn, you know, lost).
What do the numbers suggest?
In 2014 583, 645 under-30s were enrolled. As of yesterday, that was 585, 709. That is not a final figure, it is the number processed, and will be updated next week, but still: hardly anything seismic there. It is of course possible that some kind of tremor could be felt if there is a serious climb in turnout of those under 30 who are enrolled – last time it was about 62.5%. By way of comparison, for those over 60, it’s more than 86%.
Then there’s the enrol’n’vote factor. You couldn’t enrol and then vote at the same time today, but any time in the last fortnight you could. Critically, this would be entered as a “special vote” rather than a normal advance vote. More on that in a second, but first the numbers.
Newsroom reports that almost 17,000 under-30s enrolled in the fortnight to September 17.
In the last three days the roll has swollen by 23,000 names, with almost 9,000 of them under 30.
So we could be looking at 30,000 votes cast by people under 30 who were enrolling at the same time. Which would mean more than 30,000 young votes that won’t come into the calculation until the final result is announced on October 7. Those 30,000 votes are likely to be roughly 1.2% of all votes cast. Even if they skew, as you’d expect, decisively towards the left, it doesn’t look very high-magnitude, though of course in a tight race it could be crucial. But to warrant the quake suffix, there will need to be a surge in turnout among young people casting their votes in the ordinary fashion, whether in advance booths or today. And those results will start pouring in any second.
For more on when we can expect results to flow in, see here.
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