Fewer than half of the ACT’s youngest voters are enrolled to vote at the territory elections in October, according to the ACT Electoral Commission.
Just 48 per cent of eligible 18-year-olds have registered to vote, a dramatic fall from the 2008 election, when 80 per cent of that age group was on the electoral roll.
The number of 19-year-olds enrolled has also fallen sharply to 42 per cent, compared to 85 per cent in 2008.
About 80 per cent of 20-24 year olds are enrolled.
The figures have prompted the electoral commission to launch a social media campaign to draw in younger voters.
But Electoral Commissioner Phillip Green said the commission was not alarmed by the participation rates because new voters typically waited until the last few weeks before an election to enrol.
“It’s pretty common that younger people don’t get on the roll unless there’s an electoral event that spurs them into action,” Mr Green said.
“The reason the enrolment of 20-year-olds is higher is they would have been 18 at the time of the federal election in 2010.
“At every election you do see the number of 18 and 19-year-olds go up in the last few weeks before the roll closes.”
Canberrans have until September 21 to enrol to vote in the territory elections.
The commission has launched an Elections ACT Facebook page today, to try to capture younger voters and Canberrans who are not on the electoral roll.
“In total, only 92% of the ACT’s eligible citizens are listed on the electoral roll, and many of them are likely to be enrolled for a previous address,” Mr Green said. “While over 250,000 electors are now on the electoral roll, around 20,000 eligible citizens are not enrolled.”
Mr Green said one of the consequences of the digital age was that too many eligible voters assumed they would automatically be put on the electoral roll.
“Unfortunately, people still need to complete an electoral enrolment form to update their enrolment, and provide proof of identity when enrolling for the first time,” he said.
Eligible voters can enrol online and check if their enrolment is up to date at www.elections.act.gov.au.
Enrolment forms are also available at any ACT Post Office, ACT electoral office, My Way Centre or Canberra Connect.
Facebook users who like the Elections ACT page before September 21, and who are enrolled to vote, will go into a draw to win one of two iPads.