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OPINION: What matters to young Manitoba voters?

Some people think it's really important that young people mark a piece of paper. Why? The statistics are pretty bad. If you were between the ages of 18 and 24 in last election, only 39 percent of you showed up to vote.

CBC's Sean Kavanagh looks at what's working and what isn't in push to get young people to polls

Some people think it's really important that young people mark a piece of paper. Why? The statistics are pretty bad. If you were between the ages of 18 and 24 in last election, only 39 percent of you showed up to vote. (Michelle-Andrea Girouard/CBC)

A Vancouver marijuana dispensary has a contest with the prize of free weed and a chance to see rapper Snoop Dogg— if you vote.

There are groups set up with websites and Twitter feeds just to encourage young people to get out to vote. This year, Elections Canada launched a pilot project putting advance polling stations on some university campuses, in friendship centres and in community centres. 

Part of the drive — you go to school in one place but get to vote for the candidate in your home riding. It's all in an effort to get young people to vote.

CBC and CIVIX — a national civic education charity developing the skills and habits of citizenship within students under the voting age — will also engage with high school students in five Canadian cities this week, including Winnipeg, asking them to share their issues, concerns and hopes about the 2015 federal election.

There are also studies, surveys and university papers all dedicated to figuring out how to get young people to vote.

The rockers are in on the gig too.

A bunch of performers — such as Dan Mangan, Shaun Verreault of Wide Mouth Mason and The Boom Booms — from across the country are making it a point at shows to promote voting, doing special events or offering free tickets to concerts, just to get people of a certain age to vote.

Only 39 per cent of young people voted last time

Some people think it's really important young people mark a piece of paper. Why? The statistics are pretty bad. If you were between the ages of 18 and 24 in last election only 39 per cent of you showed up to vote.

Hard to sugar-coat that one. Why is it so hard to get young people out to the polls? Is it because it isn't cool? Because they don't care? Is it too hard?

Perhaps young people don't want to be targeted as different from the rest of the population. Just because you are 20 years old, doesn't mean you don't care about housing or refugees or run-down roads.

Maybe its because young people feel a billion miles from the promises, platforms and perceived platitudes of politicians. 

Most people hate being talked down to-or talked at. Why should it be different for young people?

'How can my vote make any difference?'

Possibly the message from the politicians isn't hitting any marks.

It can be hard for any voter to weed whack their way through promises on income splitting or deficit spending to get to a place that makes them feel something that inspires.

I think one of the biggest things for many voters — young, old, whatever — is they just don't feel their vote counts.

There are millions of votes cast in hundreds of ridings across the country. The city where all the politics happens, Ottawa, kind of feels like it's light-years away from wherever you live.

So it's not hard to think, "How can my vote make any difference?" 

But here's the thing. That feeling that, "My vote doesn't count," is one that rumbles in the bellies of many many voters.

It doesn't matter how old you are. So, if you are young, you are not alone.

Here's my response to, "Your vote doesn't count." 

For one minute, from the second I mark my ballot to when I get outside the polling station, I always feel my vote does count. Always. 

It is a great feeling. I feel like I belong to something. I feel like I have a stake in what's going on in my country.

And I feel that if I join a bunch of other people that feel the same way, we can make a difference.

One day, there might be an app on your phone so you can vote. Or maybe one day, like in Australia, it will be mandatory to vote.

But in the meantime, you have to haul yourself down to a church basement or community club or school gym to mark your ballot with a pencil. Regardless of how we do it, it will always be a bit of a rush for me.

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