Student Votes Count
The 2012 US Presidential Campaign is starting in earnest today with the Iowa Caucus. And, even though we’re Canadians and we’re going to be stuck with 4 more years of a majority Harper government, its a good time to talk about how important it is for young people to vote.
I’m surprised with the number of people under 30 who don’t vote, particularly post-secondary students. As I’ve been at school for the last year and a half, its always weird to talk to students and hear them say they don’t have the time to vote. It’s a sad fact of our democracy that it’s failing to gather the participation it needs to survive.
The 2008 election saw 59.1% of registered voters turnout out to cast a ballot, the lowest in Canadian history. As a result each party, except the Green party, received fewer total votes than in 2006. The Conservatives lost 170,000 votes, the liberals 850,000, the NDP 70,000 and the Bloc lost 170,000 (Voter turnout).
According to Elections Canada, the 65-74 age group had the largest turnout Canada wide for the 2008 election (68.4%). As students only 37% of us, ages 18-24, showed up. Where were we to cast our vote and make our opinions heard.
One goal of a post-secondary education is to make us active members of society, contributing to the greater good of our country. That includes voting. Without the votes of young people this country is left with an extremely un-balanced government. One catered to the largest turnout, or people 65+. Without the student vote, the needs of our whole generation are ignored.
Look at a politicians campaign trail and compare the number of senior home stops to the number of campus stops. You’ll find that there are next to no campus stops because they know we don’t vote. Not only do politicians not campaign at our campuses, their platforms have very little (or nothing) to offer a post-secondary student. But, what if we did vote? The fact is there are over 1.5million post-secondary students (Stats Canada) and 3 million young voters in Canada. If we came out in masses to vote, we could sway an election whichever way we want.
If we came out in masses to vote then by the next election you can be sure political platforms will have a great deal more to offer us as students. This isn’t about out-weighing the older generation, it’s about ensuring balance in our political landscape. It’s about ensuring true democracy.
Some of you may be reading this and thinking “well this is all great if you have a party you like, but I don’t like any political parties. And besides, I don’t even like our current government system, so why should I vote?.” A fact that not many people know is that you are entitled, as a voting citizen, to cast a blank ballot. All you have to do is show up to your voting station and tell the people working there that you decline your ballot. This is recorded, and declined ballots count as a vote as well.
A declined ballot is a vote for a better system. Its a vote to say “this doesn’t work for me.” Sitting at home and not voting on election day won’t make any change, but casting a blank ballot will. So if you don’t like our current system, or you don’t like the platforms of any of the candidates. Make sure your voice is heard and decline your ballot.
So, for those of you who think your vote doesn’t count, you’re wrong. Whether you’re voting for a candidate or declining your ballot let our politicians know we care and that they should be paying more attention to us. However you choose to vote, your vote is a part of a movement for the younger generation’s voice to be heard.
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