QJPolitics: The only useless vote is one not cast

While most sought a New Year’s kiss as the clock struck midnight this Jan. 1, the year 2014 signalled the start, for many, of the build up to the next election. Not the student government election, but the Canadian one. Although the next federal election isn’t for over a year, the Liberal, Conservative, New Democratic, Bloc, and Green parties are gearing up for what is anticipated to be one of the most contested elections. No longer are federal elections a two party race. The simple fact, however, is that they don’t care about you — the student.

The student is essentially a worthless resource to Canadian political machines, which have started to turn, building momentum toward the big day in 2015. The student doesn’t engage civically. The student doesn’t donate to party coffers. The student doesn’t engage with their political representatives. And, as we all know, the student doesn’t vote. Don’t be surprised if youth are hardly mentioned in the coming campaign. Since you — the student — doesn’t care, you aren’t worth the print in campaign leaflets or commercials on television.

It’s unfair to say this is true for all students. However, the statistics suggests it’s a fair assumption, since fewer than 40 per cent of eligible voters between 18-24 went to the polls. Our age group is ambivalent. Surfing the web is more about cat videos and memes than the news.

If one wants to see the complete mobilization of the under 25-age group, you’ll have to take away the entitlement. If political parties suggested moving the voting age to 29 to save money on paperwork for an electorate that doesn’t show up, there would be riots. Or would there? We may be so consumed with our daily lives we wouldn’t notice.

What most in our age group forget is that while in Canada voting is a right, it’s a privilege in much of the world. What is left of the oldest generation have some memory of the threat of dictatorship. With that in mind, despite rain, snow, or sleet, they make it to the polls no matter the obstacle. Granny has more political clout than you.

While a student may think their vote is useless, think again. While I can’t speak to whether your vote can tip the balance in your riding, it boosts the voter turnout rate among young people. Besides the journalists who decry declining turnout each election, parties pay attention to the statistic. They need to know who to engage, and only once it’s a sizeable bracket will a political party start campaigning to you — the student.

No political party may be knocking on your door right now regarding issues that matter to you, but it takes the act of your vote to tell them to pay attention. In a day when everything comes down to crunching numbers, your vote still matters. And while you may think it’s a bit early to be thinking about an election, they are getting ready. So pay attention to activities in Ottawa, because it’s time we starting getting ready too.

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