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Make Your Vote Count

Make Your Vote Count

Those who have gone before us paved the way for everyone 18 years and over to have the privilege of voting; however, in the 2017 general election only 79.8 percent of eligible voters did, and in the 18 to 34 age group it was around 69 percent. Apathy, disillusionment and perhaps a feeling that my vote won’t make a difference are potential reasons.

We can be proud that New Zealand became the first country enabling women to vote. Prior to 1867, Māori men could vote if they owned land and could provide the evidence—legislation through a solely European lens. In 1867, Parliament set up four electorates for Māori: three in the North Island and one for the South Island. To avoid difficulties with property ownership, all Māori men aged over 21 were eligible to vote. Four seats were an inequitable concession on a per capita basis, as Māori deserved 14 to 16 members (Europeans then had 72).

In the lead up to the election, politicians are trying to persuade us to vote for them with promises, many aimed at what is referenced as the ‘squeezed middle’. As The Salvation Army we are seeing more people accessing our services in the ‘crushed bottom’ or, as William Booth described it, the submerged tenth. Many are doing all they can to provide for themselves and their families, yet are accessing our foodbanks, financial mentoring and living in our transitional houses.

Throughout August and September our Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit released a series of five ‘pressing issues for our people’ documents focusing on jobs; living costs and tax; helping children and youth to thrive; homelessness and housing deprivation; alcohol, gambling and illicit drugs; and criminal justice. They offer a snapshot of the issues that are important for the more than 150,000 people The Salvation Army serves and journeys with each year.

I encourage you to read these, see what politicians propose they will do, make an informed decision around how you will cast your vote—and get out and vote.

Read Captain Emma Howan’s piece ‘The Salvation Army: Non-Partisan not Apolitical‘.

Colonel Gerry Walker
Chief Secretary

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