The Niagara News is the community newspaper of Niagara College located in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada. It is created and produced by the students of the Niagara College Journalism program.
Experts are predicting another low voter turnout for next month’s federal election. Among young people and students, this has been a recurring issue.
The student vote won’t mean that much on election day, however.
It’s not that students could not make a difference. Our numbers are in the millions and could easily turn the tide of an election.
It’s the fact that, for whatever reason, we will choose not to. Blame it on the system, or blame it on ignorance, cynicism and apathy. The fact remains that more students will not vote than will take the time to mark a ballot.
The student turnout rate of three per cent in the recent Student Administration Council elections is proof of this.
Who is truly to blame? The youth, for not taking an interest in politics? Or the politicians, for pandering only to the segments of society who will bank them the most votes?
Probably a little of both. It’s true that the mainstream parties target the largest voting groups in society, such as seniors and middle-income families, by playing to their needs and wants and building their platforms around them.
Nothing is going to change, though, if we just sit back and let others make our decisions for us.
Peruse some of your local candidates’ platforms. Even if you are completely indifferent about politics, at least one of these issues should resonate with you on some level.
If, after careful consideration, the issues still seem irrelevant to you and none of the parties represents what you expect out of your government, don’t give them your vote. Rip your ballot or mark it incorrectly. A protest vote is a more powerful message than simply not participating.
Everyone’s time is valuable. Often, our immediate priorities all we care about, and just as often, those priorities do not include politics.
Nevertheless, to completely ignore a fair and democratic election of public officials, while young men and women around the globe are dying each day to have that right, is just wrong.