Skip to main content

Craig and Marc Kielburger founded Free The Children and Me to We. Their biweekly Brain Storm column taps experts and readers for solutions to social issues.

For almost two-thirds of young Canadian adults, a voting booth is like a Saturday morning. They're aware it exists, but have no recollection of ever seeing one.

Almost two-thirds of eligible voters aged 18 to 24 didn't cast a ballot in the last federal election. It's not that they're ignorant or apathetic, writes McGill University student Davide Mastracci in an insightful essay. Rather, they feel that politicians ignore the issues they care about – so they express themselves politically through other avenues, like Power Shift, a youth-run campaign targeting climate change.

Story continues below advertisement

We've personally seen how passionate young people are, and we want more of them to cast a ballot on Oct. 19.

One move that concerns us is the Fair Elections Act, passed this spring. It forbids Elections Canada from visiting campuses to get out the youth vote, and restricts forms of voter ID that young people – particularly students living away from home – typically use at polling stations.

To counter this, should Canada make voting mandatory like Australia? Turnout there has exceeded 93 per cent since 1946. Or do we introduce Internet voting to complement paper ballots, like Markham, Ont., has done in municipal elections since 2003?

Canada could also lower the voting age to 16, like Scotland did for last year's historic independence referendum, sparking a surge of political participation among young Scots.

With a dismal overall voter turnout of barely 61 per cent in the 2011 federal election, it's worth encouraging Canadians of all ages to vote this fall. But it's especially crucial to get young adults voting. Studies show if a young person votes in the first two elections they're eligible, they're more likely to continue voting all their lives.

This week's question: How can we convince young Canadians to vote in the coming federal election on Oct. 19?

THE EXPERTS:

Story continues below advertisement

Ilona Dougherty, co-founder, youth engagement organization Apathy is Boring, Montreal

"Straight up ask your kids, colleagues, friends, classmates, even your yoga instructor, to vote. Face-to-face conversations are shown to increase voter participation."

Jane Hilderman, executive director, citizen engagement organization Samara, Toronto

"We take cues from those we know and trust. Make voting an activity you do together with family, friends, neighbours or co-workers."

Laura Stephenson, chair of undergraduate political science, University of Western Ontario

"Young people are just as capable as anyone else to decide who should form government. We need to make it easier for them to learn about party stances on issues that they care about, perhaps with a special leaders' debate targeted to their concerns."

Story continues below advertisement

Have your say in the comments.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter