The Significance of the Student Vote.

How today’s young adults underestimate their role in shaping the future of Canadian politics. 
By: Leah Ching, Staff Writer

JamieMcCaffreyelectionscanadaVoting day is soon approaching, and October 19 will mark the end of the longest elections campaign in modern Canadian history. For students coming back to school and gearing up for midterms, understanding the sometimes confusing Canadian voting process can be a tedious task. But if there’s one thing for certain, it’s that many students are largely unaware of the immense gravity their collective voter turnout will have in shaping the future of Canadian politics.

Elections Canada reports that of all voters, the 18-24 demographic consistently sees the lowest voter turn out at federal elections, sitting at an estimated 38.8% in 2011 (compared to the 65-74 age group sitting at 75%). To put this statistic into perspective, this is equivalent to roughly 1.8 million eligible youth. The Harper government in 2011 achieved a majority with just over 6,000 votes in key ridings. In Etobicoke Center, Conservatives won by just 26 votes. Had a few more students from Ryerson, Humber or York showed up to the polls, the balance could have been shifted.

This year for the first time in history, all millennial voters will be old enough to cast a ballot. Most Lakehead students are situated in this age demographic, representing over twenty percent of the population and constituting a force to be reckoned with should they decide to head to the polls. Young adults are more likely to vote in favour of progressive causes (which many feel have been derailed by the Conservative government’s policies). If more students exercised their right to vote, this could mean a large change in the emerging Canadian political landscape.

The Fair Elections Act, passed by Harper’s government (or the Unfair Elections act as it’s often called) has recently changed some rules of the voting game and made voting identification processes considerably more complicated.  For those students living away from their home town, voting may seem like a hassle. Under this new act, students are required to provide proof of residence when living away from their riding, and showing up with very specific forms of identification. Whether this be through a lease, telephone bill or rental agreement, there are still several options.

LUSU has launched a campaign to ensure that students understand the gravity their votes have in determining the course of the upcoming election. In the coming weeks, there will be a candidate debate along with information available to ensure that students know their voting options, understand the identification requirements, and are well prepared to face the ballot box.

Until the election, students can research the political agenda of candidates in their riding and consider which candidate would best represent their riding’s interests in Parliament. VoteCompass.com has been a useful tool for many to determine what political party aligns most closely with their personal views.

Lakehead graduate Kimberly Franklin expressed her opinion to the Argus on the importance of voting in the upcoming election, “Student issues need to be on the map this time around. Rising tuition, unemployment, and sexual violence on campus. It’s about time the federal government steps up to the plate to address these issues. I think millennial voting is the only way to ensure that.”

 

 

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