Canadians under 35 make up the largest group of voters in the country yet have the lowest voter turnout. In the upcoming federal snap election, a group of students is hoping to get the word out early to change that.
“This election is going to be extremely close, and young people will be the deciding factor of who forms government,” said Melissa Chirino, BC Federation of Students chairperson.
“Over the next 35 days, student leaders and volunteers will be encouraging college and university students across the country to vote for the party that best supports their priorities.”
The Influence the Vote campaign, launched Monday (Aug. 16) has a goal of providing supports to young people to help them overcome the two biggest barriers to voting: a lack of information and not thinking their vote matters. Through providing non-partisan information, as well as encouraging millennials and Gen Zs to sign up as voting influencers, the hope is that young people will feel welcome to take up political space, says Liam Hunter, Alberta Student Executive Council chair.
Young people — and students in particular — have disproportionately impacted by pandemic job losses and will be the age cohort most impacted by the affects of climate change. The student federation says the issues that matter most to young voters include the pandemic recovery, climate change, systemic racism and discrimination, as well as the increasing unaffordability of education and basic necessities.
“After a trying 18 months, young people will not be ignored and will fight to build back a post-pandemic Canada that includes what is important to us,” Hunter said.
There has been an increase in youth voter turnout in recent elections. Young voters turned out in record numbers in the 2015 federal election, and voter turnout among those 18 to 24 years of age increased by over 18 percent. Voters under 34 years old experienced the smallest decline when comparing voting rates from B.C.’s 2020 and 2017 general elections with other age groups.
BCFS and ASEC represent 280,000 students across 32 post-secondary institutions in Western Canada.
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