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A vote uncast is a voice lost

Many ethnic people say during private conversations that their vote changes nothing.

They are often despondent and complain that their efforts to be counted have dissipated.

I tell them that people in power will not relinquish that hegemony in a hurry. Then, I say, “Yes, it is possible and we can do it,” pointing out how through hard work I became the first South Asian Member of Parliament.

The voting power of ethnic minority groups has increased significantly, particularly in Auckland. I believe that the results of the recent census (to be released later this year) will show that a quarter of Auckland’s population is of Asian origin.

Changing demography

The massive change in the electoral demographic could tip the future elections in many ways. This is great news for ethnic communities and democracy.

Many individuals feel powerless, particularly in the apparent inability of politicians to acknowledge the persistent lack of representation of ethnic people under our local government electoral system. It could have serious ramifications particularly for young and restless ethnic youth.

Ethnic minority voters have either been ignored in New Zealand or taken for granted to a certain extent. They should decide for themselves. Many youngsters are moving away from the voting patterns of their parents and that vote is up for grabs.

I believe that the ethnic vote is as important as the grey vote and that our local government in Auckland would ignore it at its peril. The voting patterns of ethnic minorities are changing dramatically, which must be acknowledged.

There could be truth in the belief that the share of older people is larger than that of the youth. We must consider policies that should be in place to appeal to ethnic minority communities, just as we are appealing to other segments in the society.

We must be inclusive, eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations.

Youth Power

If you are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, you have the right to say who should represent you, just as you do in electing Members of Parliament,

Young people are our future. Everyone who is 18 years or older, is entitled to vote. You have many years of life ahead, and hence by voting, you can play your part in making the future of your community. One day some of you may even decide to put your names forward to stand for a Council position. So take part now by voting.

If you do not vote, you give up a precious right that many elsewhere in the world do not have. So find out as much as you can about those offering themselves for election to Auckland Council and also the District Health Boards, complete the postal ballot you should have received in the mail, and post it immediately in the envelope provided no later than October 9, 2013.

The poll closes on Saturday October 12, 2013.

Dr Ashraf Choudhary is a Candidate for Local Board (Papatoetoe Sub-Ward) Team Papatoetoe.

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