Federal Election

Students look to increase voting by other students

iVote wants to populate the polls with young voters. Photo courtesy of Sara Minaeian.

With the 2015 Canadian federal election quickly approaching, it’s more important than ever for Canadians to get acquainted with electoral system. One organization looking to promote voting among students is iVote.

“iVote-jeVote is a non-partisan community that brings together practitioners, students, politicians, and academics from across the political spectrum to engage in discussions of Canadian style policy,” said Sara Minaeian, co-director of the campaign.

Their events boast prominent politicians, with past events at the University of Ottawa featuring Elizabeth May and Thomas Mulcair, that speak on a number of topics including policy making, municipal infrastructure, and defence. Events coming up in September include Calgary mayor, Naheed Nenshi, and environmentalist, David Suzuki.

Despite their impressive list of speakers, the organization faces a tough challenge. According to Statistics Canada, low voter turnout is disproportionately concentrated among young Canadians. During the 2011 federal election, only 38.8 per cent  of youth aged 18-24 voted, comparedto the overall 61.1 per cent  voter turnout.

As a youth-led initiative, iVote may have an edge in convincing students to vote.

“What’s really specific about youth-led initiatives is the way they are communicated,” said Minaeian. “They don’t talk to youth from the top-down but rather communicating through to their peers. This also has value in greater society because the tone tends to be educative, and accessible to everyone.”

Many people think that low student voting numbers are due to apathy or a lack of interest in the political system. Minaeian has a different idea.

“There  is a lot of pressure behind a vote, and because youth actually care so much, they want to make sure they don’t mess up.”

It can be difficult get people to make well informed voting decisions, but Minaeian thinks it’s worth fighting for.

“Let’s see what the outcome is if we were all engaged in our political institutions and continuously educate ourselves with what is happening around us. I think that once we do this, we can realize the full potential for our nation.”

For more information on iVote, go to http://www.ivote-jevote.ca/