Voting through the eyes of young first-time voters

Natalie Hoffarth, a first-time Saskatchewan provincial election voter, along with others, expresses the importance of voting and the experiences of voters in Saskatchewan. Photo by Jessica Colby.

Turning 18 can be an exciting time in a young person’s life as it means being able to vote in elections. Several young first-time provincial election voters have similar reasons as to why they are voting.

“I’m voting because, not only is it our right, it’s a privilege,” said Jessica McDonald, who voted for the first time in Saskatchewan’s election on Monday.

“I might as well use that privilege and that right to try and help to create a country, a future, a society, et cetera that I agree with.”

Matthew Schill has a similar view to McDonald’s.

“I feel like everyone should vote,” said Schill, another first-time provincial election voter who exercised his right to vote on Monday. “I mean, it’s your right to have an opinion on what happens because it affects you. Every vote counts.”

Natalie Hoffarth’s take on why she is voting is the same as both McDonald’s and Schill’s: that it is a person’s right.

“It is my right to vote and I will exercise that right,” said Hoffarth, a second-year business student. “I think it’s important for young people, especially, to vote.”

This group of first-time provincial election voters evidently did their research and felt like they were informed about the upcoming election. Among their research techniques were looking into each party’s promise for the province, political party comparison websites, research on individual ridings’ candidates and watching the debate between Saskatchewan Party leader Scott Moe and New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Ryan Meili.

The intense importance of voting is apparent with young voters. McDonald and Hoffarth said it is important to vote in order to do your part in Saskatchewan’s democracy and have a say in what is going on.

“I think that because we live in a democracy, it’s our job to put in our input,” said McDonald.

Hoffarth has a belief related to McDonald’s when it comes to the importance of voting.

“I think it’s important to vote so you can have a say on what’s going on in your province,” said Hoffarth.

Voting for the first time in any election, whether federal, provincial or even municipal, can be a momentous and memorable occasion. The experience of voting was unlike anything else for some, who had these issues to keep in mind: the COVID-19 pandemic and how it will be handled in the future, education, and the issues surrounding the environment and climate change.

“It’s definitely a unique experience … I feel like you don’t really know what to expect until it happens,” said Schill.

While for others, it was nothing out of the ordinary.

“It didn’t feel any different than any other decision you would make in your daily life,” said McDonald. “It will be more interesting to find out which candidate wins.”

When it comes to breaking down the voter demographics, the province of Saskatchewan does not separate data based on age or gender, according to Elections Saskatchewan.

Although the data is not broken down by age or gender demographics here in Saskatchewan, voter turnout in the 18- to 24-year-old demographic is on the rise in federal elections. According to Statistics Canada, between the 2011 and the 2019 federal elections, voter turnout in the youngest age demographic rose 13 per cent in eight years.

According to the Election Saskatchewan website, in the most recent Saskatchewan provincial election, which occurred in 2016, the total voter turnout was 53.5 per cent of 812,224 eligible voters in the province.

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