Youth vote still up in the air

Vote mobs could bring them out, but summer could keep them in

The question on everyone’s mind going into Monday’s federal election day is just how much recent attempts to galvanize young Canadians will translate into votes on polling day.
It’s no secret that youth participation is a high priority in this election with vote mobs, youth debates, special ballots and more occurring in ridings across the country.

Late last week, a Calgary man rented a bus to drive young voters to the Easter weekend advance polls. Students in Victoria also organized shuttles to local polling stations last weekend.

“We are excited there is so much energy around this election. This weekend we will translate that energy into votes,” Victoria organizer James Coccola said in a press release.

But, according to the Calgary Herald, efforts in the Alberta city went largely unnoticed. Only six students took advantage of Michael Wilson’s offer to provide them with transportation to polling stations. Wilson spent $800 to rent the bus.

The Herald article hypothesizes that exams, the long weekend, end of the academic year or a poorly organized event could have been to blame for low turnout for Wilson’s shuttle bus. But in reality most of these reasons will remain on May 2, leading me to believe that things may not change between the advance polls and Election Day proper.

But recent research by the Canadian University Press has shown how much an impact young people can have on the outcome of almost every riding in the country if they come out to vote. That kind of awareness can quickly drive voter participation. It amounts to hope. Hope that their voice may actually be heard — the same kind of hope that led to Obama’s historic victory three years ago.

While the country saw a record turnout in the advance polls this weekend, with over two million Canadians voting, we won’t know for sure if that turnout is a trend indicative of increasing voter involvement or if the holiday weekend made it easier for Canadians to cast their ballots.

I, for one, hope it’s the former. Young people have a right to vote, a strong voice, and the opportunity to make a difference. They should seize it.