Ottawa-area students, take a bow.

This past federal election drew 10 per cent more young voters than the previous one. Obviously, the message got through, and you deserve at least some of the credit. To highlight that let’s look at some facts courtesy of elections Canada.

  • Ottawa had four ridings in the top eight ridings with the highest voter turn out;
  • Ottawa Centre had the highest voter turn out in all of Canada. About 82 per cent of people in that riding voted;
  • Ottawa’s voter turn out was 78 per cent.

Our collective need for change was heard. It isn’t a coincidence that the Liberal slogan was real change. You helped change our country overnight. Let’s keep that change going.

Students are often criticised as being detached and apathetic but clearly that’s not the case. Nor should we take our 2015 engagement for granted

Caro Loutfi, Executive Director at Apathy is Boring, a non-profit organization whose goal is to engage youth vote, argues for the importance of young people voting.

“This system will continue to exist whether or not the youth chooses to engage with it,” said Loutfi. “But that doesn’t mean that the system isn’t existing around them and isn’t affecting their everyday lives.”

According to Loutfi, if a young person doesn’t vote in the first two election that they’re eligible to vote in, the likelihood is that they won’t vote later on in life. If the trends of low voter turn out continues, in less than one generation we’ll have less than 50 per cent of all Canadians, of all age groups, voting.

Loutfi explained the best way is to have personal face-to-face conversations. Take someone who you know isn’t voting out for a coffee. Don’t ask them about their political leanings or who they would vote for if they were going to vote. Ask them what issues they care about. According to Loutfi, each personalized contact you have with that individual actually raises the probability of that individual voting by close to 10 per cent.

We often complain that politicians don’t represent us properly. They appeal to the middle-aged voter. They don’t include students and young voters in the conversation. They appeal to the segment of the population that’s most likely to vote. But if we continue to increase our voice, if we continue to turn up on Election Day like we did Oct. 19 and demand that our voices are heard, we’ll make politicians take notice. They’ll have to include us in the conversation because they will no longer be elected if they don’t.

To ensure the best political atmosphere, we have to continue be engaged. In order for us to ensure that our democracy is reflecting what our society wants, the majority of our society has to vote. Our policies and laws have to reflect our population’s wants and needs.

The only way to ensure that this happens is to continue to vote.

We’re certainly headed in the right direction. Voter turn out is generally higher in very competitive voting years. This year’s election was a very tight race. Early polls showed the NDP, Conservative, and Liberals in a dead heat. Many voters felt as though their vote mattered. But your vote always matters. Even in election races that seem over before they even begin. We are still able to influence change by our vote.

We can’t allow the progress we’ve made in voter turn out to backslide. If we want our voices to be heard, we have to continuing showing politicians that we care. We have to make it our responsibility to engage one an another in political discourse.

We made some real change in our country. We used our vote to change our country.