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Students don’t deserve special treatment when it comes to elections

by The Concordian October 29, 2013
Students don’t deserve special treatment when it comes to elections

If you haven’t already heard, it’s important for young people, (citizens 18 to 24-years-old), to vote.

Candidates and mainstream media are constantly pushing the importance of the “youth” vote in the electoral process. According to Elections Canada, “When politicians know in advance that most young people don’t vote, they may be less interested in making the effort to be responsive to issues that matter to younger Canadians.”

However, there is a fundamental issue with the terms “youth” and “young.” The age at which a Canadian is eligible to vote is 18. Although, the age of majority (the age at which a person is considered by law to be an adult), varies by province between 18 and 19, at the age of 18, a person is an adult not a youth. And yet individuals in Canada between the ages of 18 and 24 are constantly addressed as “young.”

There are numerous campaigns trying to encourage the “youth” to vote because, according to the numbers, not many 18 to 24-year-olds do. Elections Canada reports individuals in this age category had a turnout rate of 38.8 per cent in the 2011 general election. However, there was a total turnout rate of 61.4 per cent. This means that the “youth” made up nearly half of the number of voters.

Therefore, the issue is not so much that the youth aren’t voting, but that Canadians in general aren’t voting.

Eighteen to 24-year-olds are not babies; they are adults. They do not need to be coddled. Rather than addressing this age group as special and devoting energy and resources to get them to vote, more attention needs to be paid to Canadians as a whole.

Although your age may make you one of the younger Canadian voters, you are still an adult. You are still a Canadian citizen whose right to vote influences the way Canada is run, what decisions are made and who gets to make them. If, by the age of 18, you don’t understand why voting is important for a democracy to function, then it is the Canadian school system that has failed. However, if you do understand the importance of voting but don’t bother to inform yourself about the candidates and the issues and don’t vote, then it is unfortunate that you don’t want to participate in Canada’s electoral process. Hopefully, you’re willing to accept whatever results come about as a development of the people elected.

Furthermore, to divide issues into categories such as “issues that matter to younger Canadians,” is to imply that only the youth are concerned about issues that involve young Canadians, and that these same Canadians are not interested in issues that involve other age groups or Canadians as a whole. Canadians of any age should be concerned about issues that affect those younger than them and those older than them. You can’t separate yourself from an issue because it doesn’t involve your age group. One day you may be a senior, one day you may have kids, one day you may need certain services that you don’t need right now but that are currently being voted on. Therefore, the focus shouldn’t be on candidates addressing issues that concern younger Canadians, because these issues should be a concern for everyone no matter their age.

Campaigns should be devoted to encouraging Canadians of all ages to get involved with the way their country is run and not on overindulging “young” voters, who if they are adult enough to vote, are adult enough not to need someone to pander to them.

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