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‘Count us out!’ - Just over half of Jamaica’s youth would not vote if elections were held now

Published:Wednesday | October 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMArthur Hall
PNP supporters assist an elderly lady to the polling booth for the 2011 general election, and they will need to do similar the next time around, as 55 per cent of young adults say they will not vote.
We have no intention of following you and dip our finger in the ink. That's what 55 per cent of young Jamaicans are saying to this man who indicated that he had voted in the 2011 general election.

More than half of Jamaicans between 18 and 34 years old would not vote if a general election were held today.

That's the finding of the latest Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll, which tested the pulse of Jamaicans on electoral matters from September 25 to 27.

The islandwide poll, which had a sample size of 1,200 persons and a sampling error of +3.5% or -3.5%, found the parties in a statistical dead heat, with the People's National Party (PNP) grabbing 27 per cent support and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) 26 per cent.

The pollster found, however, that most of those planning to vote were above 35 years old.

In the group 18 to 24 years old, 47 per cent said they would not vote, while eight per cent were undecided for a combined total of 55 per cent who would not vote at that time.




Of those who would vote, 19 per cent said they would support the Portia Simpson Miller-led PNP, while 25 per cent opted for the Andrew Holness-led JLP.

In the 25 to 34 age group, 40 per cent said they would not vote, while 15 per cent said they were undecided, again for a combined 55 per cent who would not vote at the time.

Again, the JLP outperforms the PNP, with 27 per cent of these young adults backing Holness and his team, while 18 per cent said they would cast their 'X' for Simpson Miller and her team.

"Obviously, the young people are the ones suffering the most in these harsh economic times, and they are the ones facing the highest level of unemployment," argued Johnson as he noted that the latest unemployment data show 31.6 per cent unemployment among the youth against a national unemployment level of 13.2.




"There is a great feeling of disaffection among the young people. They don't feel that they are a part of the system or that they can make a difference. It should be noted that 53 per cent of the people between 18 and 24 believe that it makes no difference which party forms the next Government, while 54 per cent of those between 25 and 34 believe the same thing," said Johnson.

The pollster pointed out that among the 45 to 54 age group, more than 60 per cent are planning to vote. This moves to 73 per cent among persons between the ages of 55 to 64.

"If the young people feel there is nothing to vote for, then they will not vote unless they get a direct and immediate benefit, and you will see that there is a direct correlation between age, a wish to migrate, and will not vote," said Johnson.

A February poll done by Johnson found that 44 per cent of youth between the ages of 18 and 24 years indicated that they harboured a burning desire to get out of Jamaica. Similarly, 44 per cent between 25 and 34 said they wanted to leave, while 46 per cent of Jamaicans between the ages of 35 and 44 were also eyeing foreign lands.