Push for youth vote stalls
One of the campaigns encouraging young people to vote has faded away, 18 months after its splashy debut during the last federal election campaign.
With a goal of changing the tendency of younger voters to not cast a ballot, Rush the Vote kicked off at the 2004 Juno awards, including an appearance by Prime Minister Paul Martin.
And it tried to use pop stars like Nelly Furtado and slogans such as "democracy is sexy" to generate interest.
Now, as another election campaign gears up – voters go to the polls Jan. 23 – Rush the Vote has few plans to target younger voters this time out, citing a lack of funds and difficulty in replacing staff who have moved on.
"Unfortunately, at this time, we haven't really mapped out our strategy or plans as yet," Rush the Vote's Amanda Cain said. "We don't have any plans for concerts, we haven't received any funding since the last election.
"So we haven't received any ongoing support, nor have we received any funding for this election."
In 2004, the group received money from Elections Canada and through private donations, which it hasn't this time out.
During the 2001 election, only about 25 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 vote and Elections Canada believes the number was the same in 2004.
Ilona Dougherty, with Apathy is Boring, says the work done during the last election wasn't a waste of time, even if young voters didn't flood to the polls.
"There was a lot of really great work that came out of that," she said. "The question is sustainability and the question is where are the resources coming from to allow these kinds of groups to continue to function.
"What we need to continue to work on is how to maintain these kinds of groups and how to keep them functioning in between elections and that's definitely a challenge."
Both Rush the Vote and Apathy is Boring say they will mount internet campaigns during this election, but little else.
Bruce Newman, a professor of political marketing at the University of Chicago, says it's difficult to change voting patterns, and that it takes more than celebrities to get the attention of young voters – although that at least grabs their attention, even momentarily.
"Unless it's an issue of war or terrorism, it's very tough to get the attention of young people," he said. "So you have nothing else to go on, other than to talk about the future."