By Sam Kane
Bendigo Young Citizen

With last week’s calling of a federal election for Saturday, May 18, no doubt attention will be turning to policy, scandal and sound-bites, as parties vie to lead the nation for the next three years.

However, what seems to go under the radar whenever we enter these campaigns is the importance of enrolling to vote, and actually turning up to do so – especially for young people.

Voting in an election is one of our greatest democratic responsibilities and rights, as we have the opportunity, one not afforded to every person throughout the world, to shape how we want our nation to run.

It’s where three years of watching, then five weeks of campaigning, come to the fore – as we get to judge who we feel is best to lead us in these important times.

Being a young person, I feel enormously passionate about ensuring other young people my age, or those who’ve just turned 18, are actually on the electoral roll, to ensure they don’t miss out on this important privilege.

Having the chance to become engaged, have conversations and make a choice as a young person is incredibly important for our future, as we take on the challenges and issues being faced by the current generation.

However, in our discourse, there is constant commentary about how young people aren’t educated on political issues, they’re too immature, and that their casting of a vote is merely just ticking boxes.

But what people forget is that many young people, once they’re 18, have been working, engaged in their communities, and have become deeply passionate about issues close to them for years – and have real-life experience to determine what they feel is right.

And by giving them this responsibility, and ensuring they take it, forces them to take that next step, think beyond the name of the candidate, and do some research, into what they think is the best decision.

It’s years of watching, years of learning in school, and years of already engaging in government, which are able to come to fruition.

This federal election will be the first time I get to vote in a national poll, and I can’t wait. I feel enormously proud to live in a place where the views of us as citizens are fostered and valued.

I remember during the last election, when I was in Year 12 and missed out on voting by only three months, around the schoolyard and in class there were real and genuine conversations occurring between my peers about policies from all of the parties, about what would be best to support.

There were differing views and wider perspectives, providing a real plethora of discussion about what people thought was best.

That’s what having the chance to vote brings out – a thought by all people that they can make a difference, and shape the country they live in.