Young people need a good reason to vote

Today, CBC Radio’s Saskatoon Morning tackled one of the most troubling questions in Canadian democracy – why don’t young people vote?

Expert says young Canadians want their vote to count

Saskatoon Morning tackled the question of how to get people to vote. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

It's a concern all across the country.

Today, CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning tackled one of the most troubling questions in Canadian democracy – why don't young people vote?

"The older you are, the more likely you are to vote. That's a very solid trend," said Jonathan Malloy, chair of the Department of Political Science at Carleton University.

Malloy told Saskatoon Morning's Leisha Grebinski that there is much work being done trying to engage young voters. There was, of course, the much-hyped Rock the Vote campaigns. Even the CBC has doing its part in the effort with its Pledge to Vote.  

There's just one problem with those campaigns, according to Malloy.

 "We know they largely appeal to the converted, to the young people who are already listening."

Young people refuse to "hold their nose and vote"

The implications are serious. In the last federal election, 40 per cent of Canadians eligible to vote chose not to.  

"One thing that comes out in the evidence of not just 20-year-olds but also 30-year-olds and 40-year-olds is they only want to vote if they feels it's authentic. They don't want to vote if they don't feel informed about the issues, that they are cynical about people, they don't want to go in and hold their nose and vote for just anybody," said Malloy.

And so the strategy has shifted somewhat this time around.  Attempts to engage those younger voters are now more interactive, designed to help them understand which party best matches their personal interests and concerns. Again, CBC is weighing in on that front with its Vote Compass.

Malloy isn't sure how effective this new strategy will be. But what he does see is some encouraging signs that the days of plunging voter turnout may soon be over.

"It may have been arrested; we may have hit the floor."


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