Young voters hold key to May polls, says Grace PoeBy Cathy Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–Tech-savvy young voters are likely to significantly influence the outcome of the May 13 elections, an administration senatorial candidate said Monday.
“Youth power has attained a critical mass in Philippine politics because this particular election is seeing the convergence of instant communications, high level of political awareness and eagerness to participate among the young people,” said Grace Poe, former chair of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
This means the volume of young people who will vote come May 13 “could be the single biggest factor that will determine the outcome of the mid-term elections,” she added.
Latest data showed that of the country’s 52 million voters, 43 percent or around 22 million are from the youth sector aged 18-35.
As it is, Poe said campaign strategists “have recognized the reshaping of the country’s demography and are trying to harness Facebook, Twitter and other social networks” where this specific group is very active.
“The under-35 generation is the muscle of our economy and the sinews of our society. They are in the forefront of every new development in technology, commerce and academe. They know what they want from their government and the people who share their ideals,” Poe said.
Observers note that most of the Senate bets in the Top 12 of most candidate preference surveys are under 50 years old, unlike in previous elections where more senior candidates dominated them.
Poe said this could be because young people who go online often “study a candidate … (and) look beyond the face they see on the monitor. With a few clicks of the mouse they can review his or her advocacies, voting records on controversial issues and history of political alliances.”
Another advantage of information technology is that would-be voters are able to access in real time the activities of candidates, whether official or personal, and factor these in their selection of candidates.
“A single incident of poll fraud could be documented with a cell phone camera, transmitted to millions of mobile gadgets within seconds and splattered on blogs, web pages and social media accounts in minutes. It would be the most awful way to get into history,” said Poe whose father, the late Fernando Poe Jr. was believed to have been cheated in his presidential bid in 2004.