Politicians in the May 2 federal election are hoping to figure out why young people aren't voting and what would motivate them.


Windsor-Tecumseh Liberal candidate Irek Kusmierczyk says young people care about the affordability of post-secondary education. (Pat Jeflyn/CBC News)

In Windsor-Tecumseh, only about one in four eligible young people voted in the last federal election. That's something 33-year-old Liberal candidate Irek Kusmierczyk wants to change this time around.

"I've just finished my PhD at Vanderbilt University," said Kusmierczyk on Monday. "I've done 12 years of post-secondary education and I think the issue right now that's on the minds of most young people is affordability of post-secondary education."

Kusmiercyzk believes young people don't vote because they feel abandoned, and thinks his party can help with that. 

"The Liberal party is the only party that is talking about affordable post-secondary education for all Canadians," he said.

Youth Vote

Elections Canada reports that the decline in overall voter turnout is due to the decline in younger voters at the polls.

Of note: Canadians aged 18 to 30 are different from their older counterparts. They are less likely to be married, somewhat better educated, and slightly less religious. They earn less income, but are more likely to have been born in Canada.

Source: Elections Canada

On Tuesday, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff released his plan to give $1,000 a year for four years tax-free to every high school student who chooses to go to university or college.

Lower voting age to 16: NDP

Joe Comartin is the only candidate in Windsor-Tecumseh with a campaign office open so far. His Facebook page has been fully fleshed out, even before his phone lines have been hooked up.

Comartin has the most interactive Facebook page of the three main candidates, and his campaign plans to use social media to connect with young people. The NDP also wants to lower the voting age to 16.


Windsor-Tecumseh NDP candidate Joe Comartin has his Facebook page up before the phone lines at his campaign headquarters. (Pat Jeflyn/CBC News)

"We know from studies that have been done elsewhere in the world that if you get people voting, they continue to vote in very large percentages," said Comartin. "We think by lowering the voting age that we, in fact, would get a lot more of the youth voting while they're still in high school."

Conservative candidate and business woman  Denise Ghanam was unavailable to talk about the youth vote on Monday. Ghanam has a Facebook page, but it's not interactive and doesn't accept messages.

Joe Comartin says there's a good reason for students to get involved, but admits parties could do more to speak to young people.

Voter Turnout 2008 Federal Election:

  • Total voter turnout:   56.5 %
  • Ages 18-24 turnout: 37.4 %

Source: Elections Canada

"There isn't a lot of incentive on the part of parties to do that if in fact those people aren't voting," said Comartin.