On this blog you will have a chance to hear about the issues keeping youth away from the polls, to hear about ideas and projects that work to engage young voters, and to participate in the discussion.
Are you voting? Why, or why not?
If you have questions or comments for our panel, please submit them here. All questions will be moderated. And let the discussion begin!
Joining us first on the blog is Alison Loat from Samara Canada. Welcome Alison!
Good evening/afternoon (depending on your time zone!). Happy to be here, and thanks for hosting GlobalNews.ca!
Alison and Gracen, why don't you start off by giving us a quick overview of your projects during this election campaign.
Sure. Gracen, would you like to start?
I've been involved with the Vote Mob movement that's sweeping the nation. My co-organizer, Yvonne Su, and I created the first mob in Guelph and have been conversing and coaching fellow organizers coast to coast.
Our message is simply that youth will be voting and politicians should act as such. We're very excited to see how it all translates at the polls.
Most of our work deals with everyday democracy - i.e., in between elections. Our largest project is Canada's first-ever series of exit interviews with 65 former MPs, where we asked for their reflections and advice on how to improve our democracy.
To start out, let’s set the stage with some stats:
In the 2008 federal election, only 58 per cent of Canadians voted - the lowest turnout ever. The voting rate for youth aged 18 to 24 was even worse, at only 37.4 per cent.
The following chart shows how Canada’s youth stack up to other countries. What’s that tiny red bar you may ask? Well, that’s Canada’s voter turnout for youth aged 18-24.
Yeah, that's pretty pathetic.
So my question - Is Canada really the worst for youth voter turnout? Why do you think there is there such a difference even between Canada and the US?
Well, for starters, our party leaders aren't rock stars like Obama hahaha...
Hahaha - good point. How do you think our party leaders are doing so far in engaging the youth vote?
It doesn't really look like they're trying, to be honest.
Are there any leaders that stand out?
But some context is probably helpful. First, low youth turnout is not a new phenomenon. Youth have always voted in smaller numbers than their parents.
Also, as your chart suggests, it’s not unique to Canada. In all established Western democracies, youth voter turnout has declined, particularly since the mid-1990s. If more countries were included, you'd see that Canada is in the middle of the pack.
Before getting to the question about leaders, is it helpful to add a bit of what we know about why youth don't vote? Leaders are part of it, but not all...
For example, there's funny blips in the data. E.g., 18 year olds are more likely to vote than 20 year olds (probably because they’re dragged by their parents!).
Alison, leaders are part of it, what else contributes to low voter turnout in Canada?
First, youth is a big predictor. Young people vote less than their parents, and always have.
Second, education. Those with less education (i.e., people without university educations) are less likely to vote. In fact, there has been no decline in turnout university-educated young people.
Other predictors of voting are (unsurprisingly) an interest in politics, having a sense of civic duty, or of responsibility to democracy. Also, if you talked about politics in the home, as a kid. So much of this is about how people are socialized as children.
Siczar: I think you're right. Sometimes I wonder if part of the problem is that we're complacent! It's important, however, to remain vigilant. Democracy requires that of its citizen to thrive!
hi Global News: You're right. If the voting age were moved to start at 30 (not that I'm advocating that!), we'd see much higher turnout.
i would like to take a moment to welcome Jonathan to the live blog. Jonathan is from the Great Canadian Blank Ballot Project. Thanks for joining us!
Thanks, great discussion so far! Hello everyone.