It is no secret that voter participation in Alberta is not what it should be. With a turnout for the provincial election of 54% in 2012 and just 40% in 2008 – we have some of the lowest rates in the country.
While turnout is low overall, it is especially low when it comes to young people in both federal and provincial elections.
According to Statistics Canada in 2011 the turnout rate for the federal election among people age 18 to 24 was about 50%, and this was only a few percentage points higher among 25 to 34-year-olds. Voting rates for those aged 35 to 44 were also below the national average.
In 2004 a group of young people came together who wanted to see youth voting rates increase while combating the issue of youth apathy. They are called Apathy is Boring and they are a non-partisan charitable organization. During the federal election in 2004 they started the ‘Get out the Youth Vote’ campaign, reaching over half a million young people in Canada.
They aim not only to increase voter turnout, but also ‘build a sustainable dialogue between youth and elected officials.’
The organization made their way to Alberta to gear up for the May 5 provincial election.
“Apathy is Boring works nationally, to educate youth about democracy through art and technology,” said Ashley Tardif-Bennett, communications coordinator with Apathy is Boring. “For the Alberta provincial election, we are conducting a youth mobilization campaign to get youth the information and inspiration they need to vote.”
She said this includes a ‘How to Vote’ guide, peer to peer outreach with volunteers at various events in Calgary and Edmonton and also developing partnerships with other organizations to help spread the word.
“Voting – or not voting – is a habit. If a young person doesn’t vote in the first two elections when they are eligible, they are less likely to vote throughout the rest of their lives,” she explained.
According to Tardif-Bennet, ‘it’s not an attitude problem, it’s an action problem.’
She pointed out that a survey released in 2011 shows that 68% of 18 – 25 year olds think that their vote matters and only 30 % think voting is boring.
“If we don’t address this issue, overall turnout rates will continue to dip and we will be are setting ourselves up forthe dangerous reality of a fragile democracy and a disengaged generation,” she said.
For more information on how you can get involved email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @apathyisboring.