“Will my vote actually matter?”
This is the most common apprehension of young people when it comes to matters related to the election according to Youth Leadership for Democracy (YouthLed) Program Officer lawyer Mildred Ople.
Ople, who was among the panelists in the “Kapihan sa ASoG: Ligtas Halalan 2022” held on Monday, May 10, shared that there is still a need for concerned sectors to help in convincing the Filipino youth that their votes matter when electing the next leaders of the country.
“Based on our consultation with the young people, one of the biggest apprehensions of the youth nowadays is: Will their vote actually matter? Lalo na isa lang naman sila (especially since they are just one) so they think that it won’t make any difference,” Ople said.
Based on the motion study conducted by YouthLed as far as registration is concerned, Ople noted that there are three issues the young people are facing: access, process, and the motivation to go out to actually register.
While registration forms were made more accessible, Ople noted that the access to the Commission on Election (Comelec) offices is “really one of the concerns.” She also pointed out that in terms of process, the Comelec is also facing a lot of difficulties because of the challenges of the pandemic. “The registration days are also shortened,” she added.
Ople explained that motivation is the “last issue” of the young people. For many young people, participating in the election is not an utmost priority.
Students, she explained, are busy with other activities like the online classes or the module that they are doing. “The young professionals are working from home while and the-out-of-school youth and other vulnerable youth are also helping their families to survive during this pandemic,” she added.
For Ople, the biggest contribution of the young people this 2022 elections is that they are “one of the driving forces” – not only during the registration but also on election day itself.
Unlike in the 2016 and 2019 elections – where there were a slight decline in the participation of the youth from about 33 percent in 2016 and 31 percent in 2019 – Ople expressed hope that in the 2022 elections that the number of youth participation will increase.
Despite these challenges, Ople said that there are a lot of ways to motivate and convince the youth to participate in the election.
“What is more effective than a fellow youth convincing a fellow young person to actually participate in the election?” Ople said.
Teachers, she said, can also help. “They used it to incentivise their students – that’s one way of motivating them to register [and] we hope that all of these efforts will help out increase the registration numbers,” she added.
To address the issues among the youth, there are various efforts with different groups participating in the voters registration initiatives.
She explained that a lot of youth organizations – not just in key cities but as far as in the island provinces – are all there to support to reach out to as many young people as possible.
“We’re glad to be helping out in supporting this very important call for the young people to register and vote,” Ople said. “They are the driving forces in information dissemination and in the actual election day,” she added.
Exactly a year before the elections, the “Kapihan sa ASoG: Ligtas Halalan 2022” – which was was organized by the Ateneo School of Government through Participate PH with YouthLed PH – discussed how the government is preparing for the 2022 elections and how the electorate can help ensure that the “elections is safe, fair, and free.”