From the Editors: Please Vote

Where did I put that? Oh.

Danielle George / The Runner

Oct. 19 is voting day, and like many others on your Facebook feed, I am going to ask that you vote.

I actually feel pretty patriotic when I go to the polls. Getting to change your government is something that many people immigrate to Canada for.

In fact I feel extra patriotic, knowing that my riding of Steveston-Richmond East is a swing riding. Too close to call. My riding could go either Liberal or Conservative, and there’s a possibility that if I, and a few of my friends, decide not to bother that day, we could cause the seat to go to a different party.

If enough people decide not to bother, in sufficient numbers, entire seats can shift. Seniors show up to vote much, much more often than young people, and older folk are more likely to vote Conservative—if you consider this problematic, the only way to address this is to go out and vote.

Now, I don’t care who you vote for, I simply urge that you participate somehow in the process. I debated a staunch non-voting friend for several months in 2011 to do something. “Just walk in and draw a smiley face on your ballot. It will count as a spoil, but at least you showed the government that your demographic cares,” I would tell him.

By the time he got into the booth, he told me that he had changed his mind and wound up voting for one of the top three parties.

I presume something similar might happen to many people who are less engaged, or someone new to KPU who’s just out of high school and of voting age.

If you look at the various promises made by all political parties, there’s a clear weight from all parties towards seniors and people with families. The Conservatives highlight their plans for pensioners and homeowners. Both the Liberals and the NDP put emphasis on helping the middle class in the form of tax cuts.

Some parties are trying to capitalize on the potential of the youth vote. The Liberal party occasionally reiterates a promise to legalize marijuana, Colorado-style. The NDP talk about forgiving student debt over $10,000. The Greens want to move to a European-style tuition free model.

In 2011 the overall turnout was 61.1 per cent, but only 38.8 per cent of voters aged 18-24 participated. By comparison, 75.1 per cent of voters aged 65-74 voted. If young people voted just as much as older folk, all of the party leaders would be visiting university campuses as often as they visited seniors’ homes. Their entire narrative and platform would shift completely in an attempt to sway the new youth voting block.

If young people vote considerably more on Oct. 19, then the next federal election will witness a total change in the way politicians speak, and the places they visit in an attempt to sway you.

So, we see ourselves in a catch-22 of sorts. Young people don’t vote because they feel like politicians don’t care about them, and politicians don’t care about demographic segments that don’t vote. This could be the year to change that.

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