Nova Scotia·Nova Scotia Votes

Get Out the Vote campaign encourages students to make their voices heard

The campaign, led by Students Nova Scotia, is asking students at universities across the province to pledge to vote, and is holding information sessions to overcome informational barriers to voting.

Biggest issues for students include affordable housing, employment, and mental health

The Get Out the Vote campaign launched this week at universities and colleges across the province. (Submitted by Lydia Houck)

It's Nathan Penman's first time voting in a provincial election, and he has one message for people who think students don't care about the democratic process. 

"Everyone counts us out," Penman said. "No one thinks that students vote and they think that we're just apathetic and that we don't care. But that's not true."

"So I want to prove them wrong."

Penman is a fourth-year forensic psychology student at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. He believes the biggest deterrent to young people participating in the electoral process is a lack of information.

This is why Students Nova Scotia, a non-profit advocacy group that represents 20,000 students at universities and colleges across the province, launched their Get Out the Vote campaign last week. 

Penman is from Sydney, N.S., and says he cares about the future of Nova Scotia. (Submitted by Nathan Penman)

In the lead-up to the 41st general election on Aug. 17, Students Nova Scotia is trying to get as many students as possible to pledge that they will vote.

Lydia Houck, the executive director of the organization, said it is crucial to encourage first-time voters. 

"It can be particularly intimidating," she said. "But once you kind of cast your vote that first time, you're much more likely to become a voter for life."

Today at 1 p.m., the Get Out the Vote campaign will hold an online student information session with Elections Nova Scotia, where young people can ask questions about their eligibility, their registration, working at a returning office, or their options to cast their ballot.

The event will take place over Zoom and will be live streamed on the Students Nova Scotia Facebook page. Students can sign up on the group's website.

They will also be holding more events next week, including debates and Q&As with candidates in different ridings across the province as a way for students to learn about party platforms.

Issues that matter

Houck said some of the biggest issues for students are affordable housing, job creation, and mental health, all of which have been impacted by the pandemic. 

Penman agrees.

"I really do care about making education affordable for everyone, making housing more affordable," he said. "I mean, students, we're in debt and we have low-paying jobs. I want to see that change a bit."

Nearly one-tenth of Nova Scotians fall between the ages of 18 and 24, and over 55,000 students study at post- secondary institutions in the province. 

Houck said it's important for people in this demographic to use their voice. 

"By showing up to the polls and showing decision-makers and politicians that students are paying attention, they're engaged, and these are the issues that matter to them, it really, really helps in ensuring those issues can be prioritized by government moving forward," she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicola Seguin is a multi-platform reporter with CBC Nova Scotia, based in K'jipuktuk (Halifax). If you have a story idea, email her at nicola.seguin@cbc.ca.

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