First-Time voters struggle with lack of information and engagement

Young voters play a crucial role in our democratic process. With the next generation of voters becoming eligible to submit their ballot, the youth voter turnout is still surprisingly low.

 In the 2019 federal election, only 54 percent of citizens aged 18-24 exercised their right to vote. This is quite the contrast to the 79 percent voter turnout in Canadians aged 65-74. 

For first-time voter Felicity Porter, the hesitation comes from lack of information target towards first-time voters “I’m not voting because I don’t feel I got educated enough about political parties/ the elections in general throughout my schooling”. 

Porter turned nineteen in August, and this is the first federal election in which she would be eligible to vote. 

“I plan on voting one day because I will figure out what I actually stand behind when I’m given the right materials to learn and be educated on every view I can and have no biases against anything,” said Porter.

While many young voters feel as though they haven’t connected enough with a political platform to get out and vote, others are following the advice of long time voters who have emphasized the importance of getting involved in elections 

“I voted in this election because I think it’s important to vote as a young person, but also because my parents made me,” Olivia Harris said with a laugh, a first-time voter who also recently became eligible to vote in her first federal election. 

“It’s important for young people to vote because we are the next generation moving forward and we also have voices to be heard” says Harris. 

When asked if she was surprised to learn about the meer 54 percent youth voter turnout, Harris said “Yes, that’s barely more than half our age group! I think they’re not voting because people don’t care enough and it’s not really taught much to us about what political group does what. We know nothing about it, and nobody my age knows anything about it and they don’t care to learn.” 

While many are optimistic that youth voting trends will make an upward spike following today’s election, it is very much up in the air to see if there will be more engagement than in the 2019 election.

 According to the 2015 National Youth Survey found on the Elections Canada website, it is stated that young voters are less likely to receive a voter information card and less aware of the ways to register and vote. This recurring theme of information not being targeted towards young voters is prevalent across the board. 

The Elections Canada website also states that “Voting is a habit-forming: if a person votes in their first election, they will probably be a life-long voter. 

On the other hand, if someone does not vote in their first election, they will probably not pick up the habit later in life”. This statement draws clear attention to the importance of engaging voters early and the possibility that there may be room for improvement in the area of first-time voter education.

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