Young Canadians are proving the most difficult group in the country to get into the voting booth.
People between the ages of 18 and 24 are the least likely to cast their ballot in Canadian elections according to Elections Canada.
In 2011, 38.8 per cent of young people in that range voted compared to the national average of 61.1 per cent. It was an increase of 1.4 per cent from 2008, but still remains the lowest participating age range in the nation.
Mattaus Buelow, 23, is a student at Red River College, and said his biggest obstacle to voting is himself.
“I haven’t put the time in to research who I want to vote for,” he said. “I should be doing it, but I’ve been busy, and at this point I don’t think there’s much anyone could do to get me to vote.”
Buelow isn’t the only one that’s been busy. Since August 2, Canada’s top candidates for prime minister have been out on the longest campaign trail in the country since 1872.
The 78-day period has an estimated cost to Canadians of about $375 million, according to Marc Mayrand, Canada’s chief electoral officer, who reported this figure to a May 7 Parliamentary committee meeting.
Zach Oulton is 22 and was too young to vote in the 2011 election. He said he does his best to stay informed by reading political blogs and the occasional newspaper.
“I think the biggest reason most people my age don’t vote is because so few of us watch or read the news the way our parents do,” he said. “I don’t feel like any of the parties are really reaching out to a younger audience in a meaningful way.”
Oulton said one of the major issues he’s looking at this election is how the different parties plan to affect positive social change in his home riding of Winnipeg Centre.
Much of the campaign has been focused on appealing to Canada’s middle class and families, the groups with much higher voting rates than young people. On the NDP’s website, Thomas Mulcair’s focus is conveyed as, “Creating stable and full-time jobs is the best way to strengthen the middle class and help families get ahead.”
Currently, the Conservatives hold 159 seats in the House of Commons. The NDP and Liberals have 95 and 36 respectively.
There has been some discussion over whether the NDP and Liberal parties could have joined together to form a coalition to combat the Conservative majority, but Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau, has said it’s not the way he wants to lead.
This is one in a series of federal election campaign stories completed by Journalism Major students in Red River College’s Creative Communications program. Click here to read more of their articles.