Parties should do more to appeal to student voters

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The rhetoric that young Canadians don’t vote is outdated and inaccurate—and politicians do us a disservice when they fail to consider that.
 
An opinion published in The Toronto Star earlier this month discussed the value and importance of post-secondary student voters, and the false narrative about our passiveness in politics. 
 
It’s a common misconception that student voters don’t care enough about political issues to make it out to the polls during election season. “Young people don’t vote” is a popular catchphrase amongst older generations. 
 
But dialogue suggesting youth voters don’t play an important role in Canadian democracy is false and damaging: it serves to convince young people their voices aren’t being heard. 
 
In truth, young Canadians are politically engaged and passionate about a myriad of topics, from addressing the climate crisis to affordable post-secondary education. Student voters want to see a great deal of political change.
 
But just like any other demographic, politicians have to earn the votes of young people, not expect them.
 
The 2015 federal election saw an unprecedented youth voter turnout. Political parties made serious efforts to engage with young people through their platforms, which resulted in countless young, passionate voters hitting the polls to vote for leaders who addressed their concerns and the issues that were important to them. 
 
As it stands, political leadership doesn’t do enough to appeal to youth. Politicians need to be engaging with and appealing to the interests of young voters. We play a significant role in our democracy: the largest voting bloc in Canada is the 18- to 38-year-old demographic.
 
Young Canadians have ways to politically mobilize that may be unfamiliar to older generations. Social media, for example, has proved to be a powerful tool for activism, and a platform for raising awareness about social injustice and political priorities, like the #MeToo movement. Appealing to such an influential and significant demographic should be a priority for parties, not a half-hearted attempt.
 
Student voters deserve to feel heard, and to have voting options that represent their concerns and priorities, just like any other voter group.
 
In the upcoming federal election, young Canadians have a significant role to play. If we want to see change that reflects our priorities, we need to vote for the political leadership we think will best accomplish this. 
 
It may be tempting for older generations to dismiss our part in politics, but this election, we can prove them wrong. 
 
 

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