Voice Yo Choice calls on youth to get involved in election process
By not participating in the electoral process, youths stand to forfeit an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to conversations and decisions that will impact them.
Voice Yo Choice, a non-partisan campaign to encourage youth participation in the electoral process of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) was officially launched this week.
The campaign is expected to be carried out in different phases, spanning the periods before, during and after the General Elections, which are constitutionally due by March 2021 but widely anticipated before the end of this year.
“This all started across the Caribbean. Young people have been calling for more discussions about the electoral process. We had the first sparking or the first happening in Guyana with the ‘vote like a boss’ campaign,” Nafesha Richardson, a member of the Voice Yo Choice team said.
Richardson, who is the founder of youth organisation, Spark SVG noted other similar campaigns in the region, including the “Youth Voice Matters” campaign, which is being carried out in Jamaica, Belize and Trinidad.
The youth leader added that youths should not take for granted a right that the nation’s forefathers have fought and, in some cases, died for.
Shafique Sam, another member of the Voice Yo Choice team expressed hope that the campaign will be able to engage youth in the electoral process by enabling them to become more informed to think more and vote accordingly.
In his presentation, Sam proffered that voters help to shape the political system as they push parties and governments to develop ideas and policies that seek to meet the needs of the electorate.
“The outcome of an election only reflects the judgement of the voting public. Groups who have lower turnout rates may be neglected in policy making thus policy outcomes,” he said. “Essentially, by not participating, we are not giving our voice to the issue. We are not meaningfully engaging in the maximum possible way and to prevent our concerns and our voice from being neglected, we must voice that choice, we must participate.”
To ensure that youths understand the importance of voter participation, education is a major part of the non-partisan campaign. But the team intends to use other initiatives to engage the younger voters, which will hopefully result in a larger voter turnout among youths on election day.
Another member of the team, Utamu Rose said at Tuesday’s launch that they are currently engaged in research which looks into the voter turnout in previous elections among other things.
And plans are afoot to look at the eventual results of the upcoming election, and do statistical analysis to determine whether the campaign is successful at the very least in increasing voter turnout.
“We know there is a lot of different factors that would affect that in terms of the demographics, how much people actually registered to vote and how much people have attained age to vote,” he said.
A survey is expected to be launched soon for persons between 16 and 35 years old.
Sam said the survey “also includes information on what are some of the impediments to persons voting previously and once that information is collected then responses could be crafted and proposed to increase engagement”.
And youths are being encouraged to participate by taking the survey by clicking on the link in the bio section of the @voiceyochoice accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Franz George, the Caribbean and Americas representative at the Commonwealth Youth Council is the coordinator of the Voice Yo Choice campaign.
Other members of the non-partisan campaign team include Demion McTair of OneNewsSVG, Ronelle King and Devonte Peters.