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The Importance of Voting

By Asad Rehman

It’s that time again; politicians from all around Canada come out of their offices and compete for the privilege to represent the nation and to hold the coveted post of Prime Minister. A time when you see red and blue signs everywhere you go, where you see political debates all over the comment section, sometimes spilling into the classroom, home, and workplace. With every passing election season comes voting; your say in who should represent the people. However, many Canadian citizens choose not to exercise this right. In fact, Elections Canada estimates that in the 2015 Federal Election, only around 66% per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot.

This trend is much more prevalent in the young adult population, with voters aged 18-24 consistently having the lowest turnout. It begs the question: why do so many young adults choose not to vote? One prominent reason is the established notion that “your vote doesn’t matter”. It can make sense to think like this when you are one voter out of millions. Every group of new voters hears this and thinking that one’s vote is irrelevant strongly deters people from voting. The spreading of this viewpoint leads to a large portion of young adults choosing not to exercise their right. It is important to remember that if all members of a certain demographic choose not to vote, their wishes, views, concerns, and priorities will not be taken into account. While you may feel your vote by itself is worthless, the combined votes of all those in the same boat as you make a big difference. They ensure your interests are represented, and thus you must all vote. If all young adults such as yourself choose not to vote, issues which impact you will not be favoured. In summary, it is extremely important for all members of this demographic to vote in order to ensure the problems that affect you the most, things such as post-secondary education and the policies which impact the job market, are taken care of. Another prominent factor is that young adults do not understand the importance of voting. While most of you are unable to vote in the future, your time will come. When it does, it is critical to understand the voting system and the reasons why you need to vote.

In Canada, the election system currently used is called a first-past-the-post voting system. In this system, each person has one vote, which they cast in their riding. A riding is an electoral district, for example, our Milton riding. The candidate with the most votes in a riding wins a seat in the House of Commons and represents that riding. The Governor General asks the Members of Parliament to form a government, which is normally the party whose candidates have won the most seats; that party's leader generally becomes Prime Minister. The party which wins the second largest number of seats becomes the Official Opposition. This means that a candidate of one party can win in your riding, but the overall government can be of another.

Now that you know how voting in Canada works, here are a couple of reasons why young adults need to vote:

1. Your vote will affect your future: you may not care about things like taxes now, but in a few years, things like how much taxes you pay, and what they go toward, will greatly impact you.

2. Vote now to shape the best future for you.

Diversity matters: having people with different beliefs, experiences, and unique ideas shape our country. By voting, you ensure your diverse views are included.

3. The youth are the future leaders of Canada: get involved as early as possible to make sure things are in the best place possible when you take the reigns.

4. Bring new ideas to the table: every new generation has new values as society continues to change and evolve. If the youth does not vote, the country will remain stuck in the ways of the past.

5. You have the most to gain: as young adults, you are most likely to remain in this system the longest, so why not vote to make sure it encompasses what you want.

6. Bring change: it is clear that many problems exist today, and time has shown that it is the young population who drives change. Vote to ensure a better tomorrow.

Though young adults continue to have the lowest turnout, it seems that things are improving, with the up and coming generations showing a greater interest in politics and social issues. In fact, the most recent 2015 federal election saw the participation of voters aged 18 to 24 increased by 18.3 percentage points to 57.1% (from 38.8% in 2011). Our goal as young adults should be to make this number 100 per cent: this will show people that we care about our future, show politicians that they cannot ignore the demands of the new generation. To conclude, remember that your vote matters, and that casting it ensures that you have a say in this country’s future, your future. Though we may not be able to vote now, keep your pens at the ready for the next election, the provincial election in 2022, where we will be sure to make our voices heard.

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.” - George Jean Nathan

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