A crowd of young voters took to the streets of Toronto Friday
afternoon as part of a "vote mob." Driven by social media campaigns on
sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, these largely non-partisan
rallies encouraging young people to vote have been happening on campuses
across the country during the federal election campaign. The CBCNews.ca
Community team spoke to a few vote mobbers in Toronto to find out why they
got involved and why voting is important to them.
Julia Hawthornthwaite, 22, is a student at the University of Waterloo and is currently doing a co-op placement at the Ministry of the Environment in Toronto.
CBCNews.ca Community: Why did you join the vote mob?
What brought me to the vote mob is the excitement that's happening right now, where the youth movement is empowering people to get involved and vote. I'm very into politics and very passionate about a lot of issues. It's been great to see it spread across the country and I really wanted to go to one myself.
We actually marched to the Elections Canada site at Bathurst and Bloor. I thought that was a good addition because other vote mobs have been mostly [video projects] - kind of fun and informative, telling people to go and vote - but this one was different and we actually physically went there [so some people could vote in advance polls]. I was with a friend and it was her first time voting so it was very exciting.
CBCNews.ca Community: Do you think these vote mobs will inspire more young people to head to the polls in this election?
I'm really excited to see if this actually does impact voter turnout. I don't think we're really going to know until the results are in. The [voter participation] polls you see... they're all being done landline. If you think of a young person -- what young person has access to a landline these days? Probably a very small percentage. We have no way of knowing [if many young people will vote] until the actual results come in. I'm optimistic.
John Baxter, 20, is studying life sciences at the University of Toronto, though he hails from Kitchener, Ont. He's a first-time voter.
CBCNews.ca Community: What it's like being a first-time voter?
I'm pretty new to the whole politics thing so I haven't really known much about anything. But this mob kind of motivated me to go vote. It wasn't my riding so I didn't actually vote today but I will next week.
CBCNews.ca Community: Why did you attend the vote mob?
My friend actually told me to go to this and he told me about the parties and issues and it's kind of opened me up to the world a bit. I now have new views on everything, so it's been a really good experience for me. I'm pretty busy with school so I don't have a lot of time to look into issues or read the news, although I should. A lot of my friends weren't really interested in politics so I was never really exposed to it. But now I feel like I know a lot more.
Chris Drew, 28, works as a community planner for the office of Liberal MPP Glen Murray in Toronto. Inspired by the recent spate of non-partisan youth voting messages on social networks like YouTube and Twitter, he participated in the vote mob.
CBCNews.ca Community: Why do you think vote mobs have struck a chord with many young Canadians?
I think young people sometimes feel that politics is inaccessible, or the way that politicians are talking, or what they're saying, or the fights and bickering they get into, have no meaning or relevance to their lives.
But when they see friends coming out and doing something fun and engaging with a non-partisan message, it's a lot more appealing I think. It gets a lot more people thinking about the election and then they'll make their own choice on who they'll vote for. If you look at what's going on on the internet, there are lots of hits for different YouTube videos out there -- flash mobs, vote mobs ... just people getting together. We were getting a great reaction as we were walking along Bloor Street. People stopped what they're doing and watched us in amazement ... What is the group? What are they doing? Why are they so happy? And why do they have Canadian flags and are telling people to vote?
CBCNews.ca Community: Why is it important to you that you, and other young people, vote?
If you look at what's going to happen in Canada, with the aging population and baby boomers, our generation needs to speak up for the priorities we want, whether it's the environment or the changing economy or the other issues near and dear to our hearts.
If we don't vote and if we don't put pressure on our political parties, we literally will have a country governed by people that don't represent us.
Canada is going through some massive changes and youth have to be at the table. That's the most important reason for me to vote. I don't care what party they vote for ... but youth have to vote, it's absolutely essential.
Natalia Polis, 20, is studying political science and cinema studies at the University of Toronto. She found out about Friday's vote mob through Facebook.
CBCNews.ca Community: What did you think of the vote mob experience?
I found it really cool ... I had never really been to anything like that before. A bunch of my friends were going and I thought it'd be cool to vote for the first time, which I did today.
CBCNews.ca Community: How did it feel to vote?
It felt empowering to finally vote and to have an opinion. I think it's important because I think everyone should have a voice and have their opinion out on issues in our country. Voting gives [people] an ability to choose the best candidate to deal with the issue and have their voice heard.
CBCNews.ca Community: Do you think the youth vote will have a major impact on the election?
I'm not sure it'll make a huge difference in the final result but it'll make a huge difference in awareness and make [young] people more aware of the issues.
Are you a young Canadian voter? Tell us why you think voting is important. You can write a Citizen Byte blog entry or send us an election-themed song or video.
Meet the Community Team
CBC News Community team, from left to right: Andrew Yates, Andrea Lee-Greenberg, Lauren O'Neil, John Bowman
If you're part of the CBC News community, you're likely to meet one of us: we're the folks working to produce and promote your stories. Read more about us.
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