Young people aren’t voting, but who’s to blame?
ASHRAY JANI, FRANCES TACARDON
October 10, 2015
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In Canada, we all want a leader or party that caters to the needs of everyone, but when a large percentage of the population isn’t voting, this becomes an issue. Youth voter turnout in Canada went from dwindling to dropping, and it shows. According to an Elections Canada study, “only 22.4% of 18 to 20 year olds voted in the 2000 federal election.” In contrast, “more than 80% of citizens over 58 years of age voted.” More recently, in the 2011 federal election only 38.3% of those aged between 18 and 24 voted.
Most people think that youth voter turnout is so low because young people don’t care about democracy. When making generalizations about any broad population, stereotypes often do come into play, but this opinion does have some proof behind it. According to a study conducted by the Dominion Institute before the 2008 federal election, 29% of 18-25 year olds think that politics is boring. The more important statistic to be taken away from this study, however, is that 78% of the same population think that their vote matters in Canada’s democracy. So if such a large percentage of the youth voter population think that participating in politics is important, why aren’t young people voting?
Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer to that question. When attempting to answer any question in the field of social psychology, we can’t be 100% sure about something. We can, however, offer theories. Perhaps it is because most issues that politicians discuss, be they municipal, provincial, or federal candidates, do not pertain or matter to young Canadians, such as the Universal Child Care Benefit or intervention in the Middle East.
So how can we combat the issue of young people not voting? Your Editorial team believes that first off, each candidate running for office has a responsibility to reach out to young voters. We need to see that the candidates do in fact care for this demographic through their platforms – for example, do they really care about our student debts? Yes, a solution may be vaguely discussed when elections draw near, but rarely do we see long term goals set. Moreover, the political parties aren’t the only ones who can help in getting young people to vote; post-secondary schools have the biggest influence in making a change. Since colleges and universities are populated with young Canadians, on-campus campaigns that inform the youth about the specifics of where and how to vote are our best bet. A modern solution to this issue is the emergence of the Vote Note app created by a Concordia University student, Matthew Hueman. Through the use of GPS technology, Vote Note, which most likely appeals to young voters, lets them know the candidate names and information, polling locations, and even a countdown to election day.
Dougherty, Ilona. “The Real Reason Why Youth Don’t Vote.”www.canada.com. Postmedia Network Inc., 19 Apr. 2011. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.
Elections Canada; Youth Activities; Youth Electoral Participation – Survey and Analysis of Canadian Trends: <http://www.elections.ca/>