Young people realizing how important their votes might be

By Dylan DesRoche

Oct, 6th. 2015

Yesterday was the first time Mitchell Fennell votee in a federal election, but the 18-year-old Holland College student already understands how important it is to vote.

“If you’re of legal age to vote, you need to do it,” said Fennell as he left Holland College’s CAST building just after voting Monday morning.

Elections Canada offices have been set up at the college and at UPEI, the offices will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. this week.

The offices lets voters cast a special ballot. For the first time they can vote in their home riding even if it’s across the country, says Francoise Enguehard, a regional spokesperson for Elections Canada.

“The idea here is to try and make voting more accessible to Canadians.”

Fennell said the offices on campus are a great idea.

“I spend a lot of time traveling to and from school. By the time I get home, the polls will most likely be closed. This makes it very convenient for me as a student,” said the first-year electrical engineering technology student.

The pilot project is aimed at making it easier for students to vote and to get them more involved in the voting process.

Organized by Elections Canada, the project will open over 60 temporary Elections Canada offices this week across the country in an effort to increase voter turnout, Enguehard said.

Voter turnout hit an all-time low during the 2011 federal election, with only 38 per cent of youth showing up to vote. Some 2.7million young people we’re eligible to vote in 2011, 1.1 million chose to, resulting in nearly 7 per cent of total ballots going unused.

Jonathan Rix is the vice president of Academic and external affairs with the UPEI student union. You can feel excitement on campus, he said.

“The campus has been very receptive. I’ve talked to so many students and they’re so excited to go out and vote this time.”

Don Desserud is a political studies professor at UPEI. The initiative is a step in the right direction, he said

“The fact they are putting these offices where they are sends a clear message that the youth vote does matter, that is helping people to take this seriously.”

Desserud expects more youth voters to vote this year. He estimates somewhere around 50 per cent of youth will vote this year, up from 38 per cent in 2011.

“I don’t know if we’re going to double the youth vote, but I’m going to take a wild guess that we’re going to get closer to the 50 per cent range this time around.”

The increased youth vote is not expected to change the outcome of this election. But it could be a sign, the long sleeping youth has started to awaken, he said and the world of Canadian politics is about get a whole lot younger.