Guest blog by Apathy is Boring
Youth voter turnout is on the decline across the country. In the 2011 federal election, only 38.8 per cent of Canadians aged 18-24 voted. This trend is especially worrisome for the upcoming provincial election, given that Alberta is the province with the largest demographic of young people in Canada.
For the nonprofit sector, young people represent our future leaders, volunteers, advocates, and funders. Encouraging community and civic engagement is imperative in nurturing the future of this sector. And for nonprofits working with youth, this election may be the opportunity to encourage and empower youth to cast their ballots.
So, what can we as citizens and community organizations do?
- Provide choices and information
Lack of knowledge about how, when and where to vote can be a major deterrent for young voters. Providing information in an accessible way to educate and inform youth is the first step to increasing youth voter turnout.
We created a How-to-Vote guide and Infographic that are available online and that we are sending to Albertan youth in the weeks leading up to the election. Given that the primary news source for youth is social networks and mainstream online media, we encourage you to spread voting information using your social media accounts.
- Engage youth as decision-makers
Young Canadians feel ignored. Politicians, political strategists and election campaigns organizers typically ignore youth issues because they don’t expect a meaningful turnout from young voters. This causes a negative cycle; campaigns ignore youth, so youth ignore elections.
That being said, by creating spaces for dialogue and decision-making opportunities for youth, we can empower them to join the political conversation. That’s why our campaign in Alberta focuses on engaging youth in peer-to-peer conversation about democracy and civic engagement.
- Identify low-risk entry points
If youth aren’t making it out to the polls, we shouldn’t expect them to come to us, but instead we should go to them. Meeting youth on their turf is important (be it in the streets or online). If you hope to access youth, we encourage you to do the same.
Our Street Teams programming, which consists of 3 to 4 young volunteers sharing voter information, will be targeting low-risk entry points like concerts, festivals and cultural events in both Calgary and Edmonton.
- Cultivate intergenerational partnerships
By sharing our collective knowledge we can affect far more youth than any one organization could ever reach directly.
The strength of Apathy Is Boring’s programming comes from the partnerships we’ve developed across the country with elected officials, community organizations and concerned citizens. Thanks to partners like Elections Alberta, Volunteer Alberta, the Calgary Underground Film Festival and Timber Concerts we’ll be able to maximize our impact in across the province.
Positive actions and practical information that are shared today will lead to an engaged, involved and informed youth. The health of our democracy and communities relies on it.
A little bit about Apathy is Boring
Apathy is Boring is a youth-led, non-partisan, national non-profit organization that uses art and technology to educate youth about democracy.
Find out more about us here: apathyisboring.com
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