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Politics Student groups launch nationwide get-out-the-vote campaign ahead of federal election

A nationwide get-out-the-vote campaign targeting postsecondary students launches today, aiming to maintain gains in turnout at the polls among the nation’s youngest voters.

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, in concert with three dozen student associations, will hold events and all-party debates and hit the streets with teams to make sure students are engaged during the campaign and plan to vote on Oct. 21.

CASA ran a similar campaign during the 2015 campaign, but this time around it has expanded efforts to include digital voting reminders through emails and text messages to students who ask for the alerts.

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In its first effort, some 42,000 students told the association that they planned to vote – a number the group hopes to improve upon this time with the help of 36 campus associations.

CASA’s efforts, among others during the last election campaign, led to a boost in turnout among young voters.

Statistics Canada said in a 2016 report that the voting rates of Canadian aged 18 to 24 years old increased by 12 percentage points between the 2011 and 2015 elections – a bigger bump than that among older voters.

The message of this campaign is that the millennial generation can have significant sway in the outcome of the election and ensure parties don’t ignore their problems and needs, if only they get involved.

The association hopes that a pledge to vote, made to a peer, ensures young voters turn out on election day.

Statistics Canada says millennials make up about 27 per cent of the population, the largest generation of Canadians and a cohort that will shape the country and its politics over the next three decades – not all that dissimilar to the influence their parents, the baby boomers, had over the previous three decades.

“Millennials are the largest voting bloc this time around, so students and young people have the potential to make an enormous impact on this federal election. We want to make sure students know that voting is easy and that their vote counts,” says association chair Adam Brown, a student at the University of Alberta.

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