Why Young People Should Vote
The election season is almost coming to an end and with that comes a lot of excitement and anticipation regarding not only the results but also the demographics of voter turnout. Considering the increased involvement of youth worldwide in mainstream political discussions over the last four years – from gun violence activists to climate justice advocates and young individuals running for office – it’s appropriate to take some time to reflect on the importance of youth engagement in the elections and general political discourse.
In 2015, only 57% of voters aged 18 to 34 participated in the elections, making them the least engaged group compared to older voters. This means that while the majority of this age group participated in the elections, they had the least say in the outcome as their votes were represented in smaller proportions. A lot can change in people’s lives in a four-year span. A young person can start and finish high school, complete a bachelor’s degree or change jobs multiple times. In four years, recently landed immigrants can obtain their citizenship. In four years, a newborn will not only learn how to walk but also how to form sentences. In four years, a 14-year-old becomes an adult, allowed to vote. A LOT can happen in four years, and that makes the elections all the more important as the result of each election will have a direct impact on all these processes and cycles.
Whether you’re attending secondary or post-secondary school, your education will be impacted by a party’s platform. Reproductive rights, as well as a child’s quality of life, will be impacted by a party’s values and priorities. Obtaining citizenship (or even being accepted as immigrants) will depend on the results of the election. These elections will impact young people’s lives the most, as we need to access jobs, education, resources and support if we decide to start a family. Those of us who are new to Canada need to be able to ensure a secure future and a welcoming environment to live in. If we look at it that way, we may find a 43% absence from the elections highly disturbing. Almost half of our population had no interest in having a say in their own lives in 2015. Why could that be and how can we change it?
Mandy Huynh, our Youth Advisory Council co-chair and first-time voter has some thoughts:
“Young people aren’t apathetic, or ignorant - in fact, I believe we may be the most passionate and optimistic group of voters. We may be dismissed for our inexperience in life, but that is exactly what makes us powerful: we can see what is possible, and we have hope. After all, it’s our future that depends on it. Young people aged 18 to 38 make up 37% of the electorate, making us the largest voting bloc this upcoming election. That means we do have a voice, at least this time around.”
To young voters out there still wondering if they should vote and who they should vote for, our last word is this: think about your future, the future of your family and the future of your friends. Think about what can happen in four years and what aspects of your life will be tremendously impacted by the decisions made on a federal level. Think about Canada and the reputation you want this country to have. If these thoughts encourage you to vote, do your research and vote for your ideal candidates, not out of fear, not out of despair, but with confidence and determination. This is your future, and the future is shaped by you.
Golsa is an activist, community organizer and advocate with a special focus on intersectionality of race, class and gender struggles. She is currently working at the YWCA as a Youth Engagement Coordinator and also designing and directing the BEATS magazine for immigrant and refugee youth in the Lower Mainland. Golsa is completing her Bachelor's Degree in Political Science.