Calgary

Democracy activists in Calgary on mission to demystify the voting process

A group of democracy activists is in Calgary to help people learn about the voting process.

New Canadians and young people not participating at same rate, says Democratic Engagement Exchange founder

The Democratic Engagement Exchange out of Toronto is in Calgary giving workshops to help volunteers teach under-engaged citizens about the voting process. (Tahirih Foroozan/CBC)

A group of democracy activists is in Calgary to help people learn about the voting process.

More than 20 Calgarians took part in a Vote Popup training session on Wednesday night put on by Democratic Engagement Exchange, a Toronto-based organization.

The organization is travelling the country to train community leaders to set up Vote PopUp polling stations — simulated polling places to help under-represented groups learn more about voting ahead of the federal election.

"We do know that different groups, whether they're young people, whether they're new Canadians, are not participating at the same rate," said John Beebe, one of the group's founders.

"So, if those voices aren't part of our democracy, then their concerns and their interests are not going to be part of the conversation."

Nauman Saeed Anwar, who took part in the training, said he hopes running a mock voting station will encourage newcomers and new Canadians, like himself, to vote.

"I became a citizen last year, and I'm looking forward to my first federal election and voting in that," he said.

"What I saw in Pakistan after the change from dictatorship to democracy, Canada doesn't necessarily have to go through any of that, and that's such a big benefit that we have over here."

The Democratic Engagement Exchange is hosting the training sessions in 13 cities across the country in an effort to demystify the voting process and build a culture of engagement.

With files from Tahirih Foroozan

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