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Voting is For Everyone

Voting Is For Everyone

Last year, I voted for the first time in my life. I walked into my old elementary school and cast a ballot alongside my parents. Then, I left. I didn't jump up and down, I didn't paint my face red and white, I didn't exclaim to others the glory of fulfilling my civic duty, and the newfound purpose it had given me. I voted, was happy I did, and then continued on with my day.

The reason I write this is because, over the last few months, I've been exposed to a variety of different strategies to increase student voter turnout. Rallies, vote mobs, student pledges - all of these ideas aim to impassion a new generation of young voters. And for good reason, too. In 2011, 38.8 percent of Canadians aged 18 - 24 voted in the federal election. Since the mid-1970s, a continuing 40 year trend of declining youth turnout is occurring. And, although post-secondary students fair slightly better in the mix, they still fall well below the national average.

So, when I learn about these innovations in election awareness, a large part of me is relieved that there are those who acknowledge these trends, and are willing to put their hearts and minds behind solutions. Yet I am also unsettled about the amount of time, effort, and creativity that goes into election awareness and promotion, especially targeted towards students. It shouldn't be this hard. It shouldn't require month long campaigns, hundreds of volunteers, and numerous social media pushes to get a student to an on-campus poll to make an informed vote. But that's what we'll see across hundreds of campuses this October, as student unions ready to put a wide variety of programming in place.

This is what brings us back to the age old and still unanswered question, why don't students vote? Are we really unengaged, and simply need to be presented with more information? Or are we too busy, and voting is low on our priority list? Or are some of us just uninterested in the process, and if so, are we justified in trying to make them passionate voters?

My point is, some students, just like some of the general population, won't be excited about casting a vote in the federal election. And some will be. I consider myself someone who has, at various points in my life, been in both categories.

It's okay for you to fall in the first. It's okay for politics and the election process to not spark the same excitement for some that it does for others. What's not okay though, is for students to be absent from the polls this federal election. Too much is at stake, and youth voters and their concerns have been underrepresented for too long. So what I ask is, regardless of your interest in politics, and regardless of your knowledge about politics, take the time this election season to learn about the parties, and to make an informed vote. It will have important impacts for all of us in the years ahead.

I look forward to seeing you at the polls,

Spencer Nestico-Semianiw

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