Your vote matters. That may sound cliché, but for young people, that phrase holds more truth now than ever.
In the last federal election, only 38.8 per cent of people aged 18-24 voted, according to Elections Canada. The same study found that over 80 per cent of citizens above 58 vote and that voter participation among young people has been on the decline since 1968.
And that’s having a larger effect than most of you would think. Our elected leaders are supposed to represent all people. But with the majority of people voting being over 58-years-old, it’s evident who they will be representing.
The candidates for the election this year know who they’re looking to represent – the groups of people who actually vote. Little focus is being placed on young voters, and it’s hard to blame the parties for doing so. Campaign time and energy would be lost on what is a deteriorating 33.8 per cent.
Any party which wants to win is more than willing to pass on reaching out to uninterested citizens.
It’s as if each party is banking on the fact that young people don’t vote. Their focus is put towards those who can get them the votes to win. Unless you are married, own a business or are a senior it’s difficult to see what’s in it for you.
What’s in it for us is stopping the cycle that will only continue to get worse as fewer of us participate in the election.
It’s true: we’re a busy generation. Very few young voters are willing to take extra time out of their schedule filled with assignments and part-time work to study election campaigns. Or to go out to the polling stations and wait in line to cast votes.
At least, that’s the excuse we give ourselves.
Yes, we could ask for better access to the polls. Maybe social media could be levered to motivate young citizens. WebFuel created a study in 2011 and discovered that 86 percent of Canadians between 18-34 use social media. To boot, 34 per cent of that number use social media every day.
When we do have spare time – or don’t – that’s where we can be found. We’re scrolling through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to name a few. This is widely known, these should be key tools in providing us with information, even in the smallest of doses.
The option of online voting has been toyed with for years, but has been repeatedly shot down for not being reliable enough. Meanwhile, we do our banking, book appointments and even look for dates online.
With the proper distribution of information, even those who aren’t exactly politically inclined will know a thing or two. That thing or two could end up being the difference in a handful of votes, or more.
That said, the Canadian government provides four options when it comes to voting. You can vote on election day, on advance voting days, at various election offices or by mail. If leaving the house to find a polling station didn’t repel young people enough, then the option to mail in your ballot can work.
Is a fifth vote option needed? Should there be polling stations in colleges and universities? The accessibility could end up being the difference in a number of votes.
It’s hard to see all this happening, though, if the interest is not there. And the only way to demonstrate that interest is to use the existing four methods available now.
There needs to be a change in our attitude toward elections. We need to think of this as representing our demographic and stopping the cycle of apathy.
So how do we do it?
We need to vote.