WHY DOES THE YOUTH VOTE MATTER AND HOW DO WE MAKE IT COUNT?
According to a recent COMELEC count, more than half of the total registered voters for the upcoming 2022 national elections are in the 18-40 age group. Now, in the literal sense, the youth is the hope of the nation. In this issue of The Feed, we geared our focus on the voter education literacy of the Filipino youth and how they may utilize their influence to transform the country's political environment.
The numbers don’t lie
In 2010, the late president Benigno Aquino III won by 15.2 million votes. Around 36% of the total registered voters then were from the 18-35 years old age bracket.
In the 2016 elections, the youth voter turnout reached an estimated 22 million, exceeding expectations. Current President Rodrigo Duterte won with 16 million votes.
If these numbers should tell us anything, it is that the youth has a major role in the election of our nation’s leaders and it is a force that shapes the face of the Philippine political landscape.
Where are we now?
Young Filipino voters, who now account for 52% of all registered voters, might once again make a difference in next year’s national elections, according to COMELEC spokesman James Jimenez.
From an estimated 22 million youth voters who participated in the previous national elections, the number of registered youth voters has now increased to a staggering 31.41 million as of the most recent COMELEC voter count. This is by far the most significant number of youth voters the Philippines has ever had for the record.
This growth in numbers is a testament to how today’s youth are becoming more and more socially aware. They increasingly see social media as a platform to express their stance and discuss the causes they have come to support. With this, social media became an effective tool in encouraging many to register.
A multitude of online campaigns and initiatives were launched. Members of the Filipino youth also organized and formed communities that aim to get people to register and vote. These have all proven to be fruitful in getting the youth to register.
With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Now that we know the power we hold as the youth, 31 million strong, a huge responsibility now rests on our shoulders.
It is important to understand that our important role does not stop at registering as voters. We must exercise our right to suffrage by voting wisely during next year’s election.
What then does this entail? How do we become informed and responsible voters?
Keep an eye out for misinformation. Campaign season is just around the corner, and one of the crucial things that appear during these times are misleading contexts or false claims regarding candidate achievements. Be wary of those who alter their achievements. If they cannot be trusted about their own past, how can they be trusted with the country’s future? Remember, one of the ‘green flags’ of a candidate is honesty and transparency.
Read past the headlines. Make sure to read the whole article, not just the headline. Headlines are not the news, and headlines are just PART of the news. Avoid sharing headlines without knowing the entire context to prevent disseminating false information.
Get to know the candidates. To make the best possible choice, it is imperative that you know who all of your choices are as much as possible. Take note of the official candidates once they are announced and make a point to read up on them. Look into their background, their affiliations, their achievements, and their stand on relevant societal issues. At the very least, don’t skip out on reading reliable news about them. Certain credible publications and groups tend to release summaries on the candidates, so do watch out for those.
Join movements about voter rights and fair elections. Authoritarian leaders are gaining momentum throughout the world, democratic values are under attack, and respect for the rights to the freedom of expression is at risk. Joining organizations that promote democratic participation can help improve youth civic engagement and voters’ turnout on election day.
Weeks before the election, make a list of your bets. You can opt to just keep in mind everyone you are voting for, however, this could be quite a lot of names for a person to memorize. This is why preparing a list of all your bets is advisable. With the information, you have gathered and upon careful reflection, write down your—not anyone else’s—picks.
As much as what has been emphasized here is the youth vote, what is written above applies to ALL voters. Every Filipino who is eligible to vote in the coming 2022 elections is encouraged to register and be diligent. Be a well-informed citizen. We must exercise our right to vote and vote wisely. Our hope rests in our vote – the power to shape the future of our nation!
Cover art by Divine Grace Espina
- Data from previous election: [ derived from 22 million strong – Manila Standard ]
- Current youth voter count: [ derived from Young Filipinos comprise 52% of total registered voters for 2022 polls so far — Comelec (cnnphilippines.com) ]
- Concluding statement source: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1455985/making-the-youth-vote-count