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Young voters could win this election

First time voters have the potential to decide the federal election, but remain the least politically engaged group of enrolled Australians, new data has found.

A survey conducted in February found that oldest age group of voting age, consisting of people over 65 years old, is approximately twice as politically active after elections as the youngest age group aged between 24 years and under.

Conducted by the ANZSOG Institute for Governance at the University of Canberra, the survey also found 13 per cent of young voters don't follow any political news and only 4 per cent have contacted a Federal MP.

It was this lack of engagement that prompted the creation of groups such as Virgin Voters, according to its executive producer Richard Attieh. 

''We did the math and about 6 per cent of the voting population is going to be voting for the first time,'' he said.

''Going off the last election, 68 seats were won with a margin of less than 6 per cent. First time voters have the ability to affect the election.''


Mr Attieh said the organisation was running a social media platform where young voters could register and put themselves forward to be part of an online show detailing their experiences of the election campaign.

''We're selecting eight of them and will follow them throughout the course of the election campaign,'' he said.

Although the group is only reaching about 4000 each day via social media outlets, Mr Attieh said his organisation hoped to increase its scope once the election date was announced. 

''It’s about empowering first time voters to share their opinion with the whole of Australia,'' he said.

''It's about getting young people thinking about their future.''

The Australian National University is also attempting to engage young voters by hosting Richard Denniss at its latest Politics in the Pub installment.

The adjunct professor at the Crawford School of Economics and Government, who will be speaking at the event on Tuesday evening, told Fairfax Media that young people have the potential to decide the election.

''There are 1.2 million young people who are relatively disengaged with politics,'' he said.

''Given how close the last election was and how close the polling is, were [young people] to take politics seriously, they could make a big impact.”

The Politics in the Pub discussion, titled ''Australia's future in the face of a ‘huge national turnoff' '', and Virgin Voters are among a number of recent initiatives to lure young voters to enrol and engage.

GetUp! is running a gold giveaway while the Australian Electoral Commission launched its campaign over the weekend, targeting young voters at football matches and other sporting events throughout the country.

Up to 15 promotional staff were expected to attend the Brumbies match against the Cheetahs on Sunday to hand out enrolment reminders, commission spokesman Evan Ekin-Smyth said.

''Nationally, we are looking primarily at young people and that’s reflected in Canberra,'' he said.

''Sporting games are attended highly by young people, as well as other people off the electoral roll.''