At Issue: First-time voters ask the panel

The National's At Issue panel participated in a special edition of electoral talk, with the focus on the concerns and questions of first-time voters.

Range of issues, ideas as young voters prepare to cast ballots

The National's At Issue panel participated in a special edition of electoral talk on Thursday, with the focus on the concerns and questions of first-time voters.

Before a live audience, the three regular At Issue panelists handled queries from those in attendance in Toronto, as well as video and email submissions.

The panelists were asked to tackle a number of challenging topics, including:

  • How a voter should view a party's Parliament performance with their campaign platform.
  • The likelihood of change occurring to the current first-past-the-post electoral system.
  • How an inexperienced voter can distinguish between rhetoric and actual priorities.
  • How the voting rates and participation of visible minorities in the political process can be increased.
  • To what degree they think strategic voting will impact the Oct. 19 election.

Postmedia/National Post columnist Andrew Coyne expressed more enthusiasm for the idea of mandatory voting than online voting, saying people may need a "nudge."

"I like the idea, I like the ritual of going to your local polling station and seeing your neighbours there – I think it adds a certain sense of importance to it," he said when the panel was asked about the possibility of online voting in the future.

Coyne also advised voters to pay attention to what each of the federal leaders don't regularly talk about.

Toronto Star national affairs columnist Chantal Hébert explained how political reporting, in good and bad ways, have made identity politics a big issue in this campaign.

Hébert said that while some electoral topics can be controversial and uncomfortable, voters shouldn't shy away.

"If you do not engage, and you don't provide information ... you're kind of leaving the field to those who are using it for their own purposes," she said.

Bruce Anderson of Abacus Data talked about some of the strengths and limitations of the art of polling, and stood up for one way in which rhetoric — which often has a negative connotation — is actually important.

"The terms and the tone that the leaders use to talk about what it is that they prioritize says something about the values they share," said Anderson.

Watch the full segment above, and find more stories and features from The National here.


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