Pledge to Vote: 5 questions answered about the election challenge

CBC News has collaborated with Google to create a tool that lets Canadians publicly pledge to vote in the Oct. 19 federal election, and challenge their friends and family to head to the polls as well.

How many Canadians will commit to voting in the Oct. 19 election?

The Pledge To Vote tool allows people across the country to display their commitment to voting in the Oct. 19 election on an interactive map. Users can match their declaration to a set of policy priorities such as health care or the environment. (CBC)

It has been more than two decades since over 70 per cent of Canadians cast a ballot in a federal election.

In the last election in 2011, only 61 per cent of eligible voters went to the polls, according to Elections Canada.

CBC News has collaborated with Google to create a tool that lets Canadians who care about the act of voting to publicly commit in advance to voting in the Oct. 19 federal election, and challenge their friends and family to head to the polls as well.

What is it?

#PledgeToVote is an online mapping tool and election engagement project. It allows Canadians to pledge to cast a ballot in the upcoming federal election and challenge their social networks to do the same.

How does it work?

#PledgeToVote involves three steps: pledge, pin and post.

Canadians can take the pledge to vote online.

The tool will ask users to pledge to vote in Canada's federal election and explain why they will be casting a ballot.

Users can select which issue they care about most from a drop-down menu, which includes options like the economy, education, social policy and public safety. They can also expand on that by writing a maximum 100-character response.

Users can elect to sign their first name to go with their pledge and must fill in their postal code.

The postal code information is only used to pin the pledge on a map of Canada.

Canadians head to the polls Oct. 19 in the federal election. In Canada's last national election, 61.1 per cent of Canadians voted, according to Elections Canada. (Reuters/Canadian Press)

Their pledge will be mapped alongside other Canadians who have taken the pledge.

Users can explore the map and see why Canadians across the country feel compelled to vote. They can filter the map by issue (like health care, international affairs or leadership) or see all the pledges simultaneously. Users can choose to view English or French pins.

What's the challenge?

Users who have taken the pledge can challenge their friends and family to do so as well. Users can share their commitment on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks using #PledgeToVote and a specialty badge.

The tool poses a simple challenge: "I #PledgeToVote in the 2015 Canadian election. Will you?" Users can also opt to put their own text in this field.

Why did CBC News create this?

#PledgeToVote is one of a number of election-related tools and features designed to help Canadians better understand and engage with the country's democratic process. As the public broadcaster, CBC is mandated to reflect the country and its regions to national and regional audiences.

Where has it been done before?

Google developed the #PledgeToVote concept during India's 2014 elections, which saw 543 members of Parliament elected to the Lok Sabha, or House of the People.

Google's promotional campaign included national celebrities taking the pledge, and the story of India's first voter, Shyam Sarah Negi. He was the first person to vote in the country's 1951 elections and hasn't missed casting a ballot during an election since then.

The project logged more than three million pledges over two and a half months, said Aaron Brindle, who works in communications and public affairs at Google Canada.

In the 2014 election, India recorded its highest voter turnout ever, with 66.4 per cent, according to the Election Commission of India. In previous elections, voter turnout ranged between 55.2 per cent and 63.6 per cent, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.


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