Be a Voter

Morgan BaskinSeptember 12, 2015
Photo by Zoë Gemelli

I ran for mayor in the 2014 municipal election in Toronto because I was angry; angry that young people were not being listened to, yet had to live with the consequences of other people's decisions. I wanted to smash down the doors and make us, millennials, louder than anyone else. I wanted to debunk the myth that we don't care, and show the political world that we needed to be listened to; that policies aimed at us needed to be written. That our votes needed to be courted. There is a myth going around about young people, which goes a little like this: "Young people don't vote because they don't care, therefore they don't matter."

None of this is true. Yes, those under thirty vote at a lower rate (41 % in 2011) than those over thirty, but it's not because we don't care. When it comes to any other kind of political involvement, we either participate at an equal or higher rate. The only exception is donating money to a charitable cause or organisation, which we still do at a rate higher than those 30­55, and only at a rate of 5 % less than those over 56. Even there we are punching well above our weight; it's when you look at the numbers for voting and involvement in formal political parties that we aren't matching up. That tells me that there is nothing wrong with young people, but there is definitely something wrong with electoral systems and with political parties.

Unfortunately, n​ot voting​ isn't getting us anywhere. It's an anti­statement. I don't blame young people for not voting; I get it. I really do. Political parties, however, are not swayed by our unwillingness to vote, they need positive reinforcement to accomplish anything. We need to bang down the door and tell them that we matter, and they need our vote. Unfortunately, political parties are not listening to us when we protest, and petition, and talk, but they are listening to votes. Yes, it's stupid, but it's true. Don't underestimate your power in the political system. Your vote may be one, but it's one in several million that can be cast. Change happens because one person at a time decides it needs to. Be one of them.


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