On Friday, October 16th, Waterloo Collegiate Institute students will be uniting together to combat low youth voter turnout rates by participating in a mock election.
Mock elections have happened in the past at WCI and are part of a program called Student Vote, a project run by the organization CIVIX. This project aims to engage young people in politics. “We’re trying to mimic the actual process as much as possible,” said Grade 12 student Lucas C. He along with Mrs. Cresswell and her Grade 10 extended French Civics class are organizing the mock election. Lucas referenced a recent study that concluded that people who engage in the voting process at least three times will often end up with that habit for life. The goal, therefore, is to start forming that habit when students are young, encouraging them to “experience the ease of the process and the value of their vote as early as possible.”
“Ideally, you’d make an informed vote. [You’d] know something about the parties and the issues,” said Lucas.
After the 2008 federal election, which had the lowest voter turnout in Canadian history, Elections Canada released a report stating that “Young voters in Canada continue to vote at levels well below all other age groups. [The] decline in voter participation has been shown to be a result of declining turnout among youth.” This conclusion, also reached by several other studies, has led to the belief that young people are uninformed and unmotivated.
However, Lucas has a slightly different view. He believes young people are very knowledgeable and passionate about issues relevant to their lives, such as climate change and social justice, yet they are not aware of how those issues tie into the election. “There’s a bit of a disconnect: they know about these issues, they have opinions on these issues, but they don’t actually see politics as a way to carry them out and to act on them.”
So how can one become informed about these issues in the context of the upcoming federal election? Luckily, a wide variety of online resources are available to learn about each party’s platforms and how it aligns with one’s views:
- CBC’s Vote Compass is a popular tool that figures out which party one most closely identifies with based on answers to a series of questions. ISideWith is another slightly more in-depth questionnaire.
- The CBC and Maclean’s both offer nonpartisan, comprehensive guides to the election’s major issues.
- To get the most accurate information directly from each party on their platforms, visit the websites of the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, and the Green Party.
- Other articles written by Fjord staff, including one that includes profiles of Waterloo’s local candidates and 10 points from each party that are of interest to young people.
To vote in the mock election at WCI, students will need to bring a piece of I.D. (anything with a name on it works) down to the main foyer, anytime on Friday, October 16th to vote.