The importance of the young voter: IMO, YOLO

As the upcoming federal election nears, it is important to get out and allow your voice to be heard, especially if you are a young adult or first-time voter.

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By Victoria Meyer

For the first-time ever, Millennials and Generation Z make up the biggest population in the election this year. If we have a huge turnout at the polls, we could make a difference.

In the 2015 election, the participation of voters aged 18-24 was 57.1%, whereas earlier in the 2011 election the turnout was only 38.8%. These statistics taken by Elections Canada demonstrates that the increase of voters aged 18-24 increased by 18.3%, which is a large jump.

For me, having just turned 21, this year makes it my first time voting in a federal election—which is really exciting! It is important that we all do our research and vote.

Why is it so important for youth to vote? There are many answers to this question. Firstly, young voters are made up of a diverse group it’s important to ensure let that our voices are heard—we’ll inherit the impacts of whatever government gets elected, after all.

The second answer that I have for this question is that every vote counts: because there are so many young citizens with the ability to vote, youth can sway this upcoming election.

Sometimes it is hard for young people to realize how important it is to vote, which is why sometimes they don’t bother because “what is one less vote?”

Well, that “one less vote” can turn into hundreds or thousands of “one less votes” if everybody had that mindset. So, it is important that you as a citizen exercise your right to vote. Our democracy depends on you.

Why should the youth care though? Right now, some of us young people may not feel like choosing a new prime minister is something that will affect their life at the moment.

Some of us don’t have homes, children, or a full-time job. But that doesn’t mean that there are no struggles you face or will face in the near future.

For many Millennials, the transition from school to work brings new and tough challenges, including graduating with a heavy student debt, trying to buy a home in an unaffordable housing market, beginning your career in an increasingly precarious job market, or starting a family with all of these other challenges facing us.

Even though you may not deal with these challenges now, you don’t know where you will be four years from now, and odds are that you will come face-to-face with one of these adulthood challenges. 

Data taken from Abacus Data claims that right now there are 9.5 million Millennials in Canada—those are people born between 1980 and 2000. This means that more Millennials are eligible to vote in Canada than baby boomers for the first time ever.

The increase in young voters between 2011 and 2015 was so surprising that The Ottawa Citizen claims that “nowhere else in the world has it increased so much between two elections.” These ascending numbers prove that young people have the chance to voice their opinions and create a better future for themselves and for each other.

But talking about the issues with each other is important: being a 21-year-old who is active on social media, I often find myself exposed to politics and fake news. It is great that as a digital community we can inform one another about the latest news in politics, however, I have noticed plenty of false information being spread, leading to misinformed citizens.

Fact checking and conversations with each other can help cut through the misinformation.

In order to make an well-informed vote, it is crucial to do your research on each party so that you can decide which party’s policies best matches yours.

Here are some links that I’ve found helpful:

https://votecompass.cbc.ca/canada/

https://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/elections/federal/2019/party-platforms/

https://canada.isidewith.com/political-quiz

https://www.macleans.ca/politics/2019-federal-election-platform-guide-where-the-parties-stand-on-everything/

There are many websites that provide quizzes so that you can see where your personal views stand in comparison to the electoral candidates, such as CBC’s Vote Compass (linked above).

I have been encouraged to see many people around my age (also first-time voters) get out there and show their support of party leaders, as well voice their concerns with Canada’s ongoing struggles. Many people that I follow on Instagram and Twitter got out this past weekend and lined up at the polls for early voting, showcasing their excitement and involvement in this federal election.

Voting day is this Monday October 21, 2019—so be sure to do your research and head out to the polls. Every vote counts, including yours!

 

Victoria Meyer is a student at York University’s Department of Communication Studies who is doing a student placement with Upstream. This is her first opportunity to vote in a federal election.

Connect upstream.