Young people are the most diverse in a population. Together they have the power to elect the next generation of leaders who will represent their shared vision for a bright future.
The PNG Electoral Commission has taken steps through raising awareness to ensure there is maximum participation of eligible youth, women, and persons with disabilities in the 2022 National Election.
“In the NGE2022, there will be a gender split in both the voter roll and the polling booths. This is the first since Independence,” said PNG Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai.
In recent times, the youth including disabled persons in Goroka, and Port Moresby had the opportunity to participate in a Youth Voter Festival.
The highlight of the Youth Voter Festival in Goroka and Port Moresby was the set-up of the polling simulation by the PNG Electoral Commission.
Festival participants joined the queue to ‘vote’ and asked questions to PNG Electoral Commission staff who were on hand to assist the youths in the mock polling exercise.
The polling simulation ensured that the youth become familiarized with polling places procedures and how to vote.
“Generally, we young people are reluctant to vote when we turn 18 and are eligible to vote. We have to reverse this trend of thinking and understand why it is very important for young people to get together and have a voice to elect the leaders who can best represent us in government and make decisions for a better future for us and the next generations,” said Isborn Baspen, a third year Physics major student at the University of Goroka.
The Youth Voter Festival is an initiative by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and supported by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Australia.
The first Youth Voter Festival was held at the University of Goroka in the Eastern Highlands Province on the 2nd of June 2022.
Rolling green hills behind the university campus and an array of colourful blooms in the flower gardens meticulously kept, provided a beautiful backdrop as more than 150 youths from Eastern Highlands Province convened and joined in an array of fun activities at the Youth Voter Festival.
“Young people represent a majority of the population in Papua New Guinea, and they have the opportunity to be active participants in shaping the future of their community and country by voting,” said IFES Country Director Paul Rowland.
“IFES is happy to work with the PNG Electoral Commission and other support partners to make sure that everyone has the chance to vote in the National Election. The Youth Voter Festival is a fun-packed event that is open to young eligible voters to attend and learn more on how they can become informed voters,” Mr. Rowland added.
Participants at the festival were from youth groups in Goroka and students from the University of Goroka, Goroka Business College, Faniufa Primary School, high school students from Goroka International School, Goroka Grammar School, and Goroka Secondary School.
In Port Moresby, the Youth Voter Festival was held at Nature Park on Friday 24th June 2022.
“The youth are at the beginning of their adult lives striving for their dreams. Many will cast their votes for the first time exercising their rights as citizens. Today we celebrate them as voters,” said IFES Deputy Country Manager Robert Irish.
Over 100 youths including persons with disabilities attended the one-day event.
At the festival, an array of fun activities included quiz competitions, raffles, scavenger hunt and performances by popular PNG artists Mereani Masani and DJ Dirty Fingers was held.
Samuel Rei, a young man with a disability, sang a duet with popular artist Mereani Masani and kept the crowd entertained.