Photo By: Arnaud Jaegers from Unsplash
Canada will be having a federal election on Monday, Sept. 20. This will be the second federal election in less than two years. Another election so soon after the last might be making you feel a bit burnt out, disillusioned or downright uninterested. Certainly there are a lot of things that make voting, especially this year, annoying.
You should still vote though.
No matter how distant it might seem, what happens in Parliament has an effect on everybody’s lives, and if you care even a little bit, then you should go into your polling station and cast your ballot.
Though the percentage of young people voting in federal elections has been rising according to Elections Canada, university students are still not a group renowned for turning up at the polls come election day. Generally, most university students who don’t vote fall into one of four categories. If any of these people sound like you, then I hope I can give you a reason to cast your ballot on Sept. 20, no matter how much it might suck.
1. The person who wants to vote but doesn’t know how
Rest assured, we’ve all been this person at one point. If it’s your first time voting, it’s bound to be confusing.
The first thing to do if you’re this person is to see if you’re registered to vote, which you can do through the Elections Canada website. If you are registered to vote, that’s good news, you should be sent a voter information card by Sept. 10 that will tell you where to vote come election day.
If you’re not registered to vote, you’ll be prompted by the website to register. This isn’t a hard process, you’ll be asked for some simple personal information like your name and address. You should still receive your voter information card, but if you don’t, that’s not the end of the world. Simply bring a piece of ID, or a combination of pieces of ID that prove your name and address to a polling station on election day. Here is a list of acceptable forms of ID that you’ll be able to use.
You will have the option to register to vote in the riding of whatever address you consider to be home. That could be a student house here in St. Catharines, but it could also be a family home that you live at in the summer. As long as you have an acceptable form of ID with that address on it, you’ll be able to vote in that riding.
2. The person who doesn’t know who to vote for
Figuring out who to vote for can sometimes feel like you’re doing homework. Fortunately for you, there are a lot of ways that this process can be simplified. When you’re deciding who to vote for, it’s important to remember that in Canada you don’t vote for the prime minister directly, you vote for a member of parliament (MP) to represent your riding. Then, the party with the most MPs forms the government.
If you’d like, you can research the candidates in your area and vote for the one you think will represent your interests, or you can vote based on party affiliation. Figuring out which party you want to vote for can be as in-depth or simple of a process as you think you can handle. If you’re looking for simplicity, the CBC Vote Compass is a pretty useful tool. You’ll be asked questions about your beliefs and then you’ll see where you fall on the political spectrum in comparison to where the major political parties in Canada fall. When you finish the quiz, simply find the party closest to you on the spectrum and then you’ll be able to make a fairly informed choice when it comes time to vote.
3. Person who doesn’t care
If you really don’t care about politics, then I’m not going to be the first person to tell you that you really should care, at least a little bit, so I won’t waste any time going over it again.
If you genuinely don’t care about who the next prime minister is going to be, you should still vote. You need to vote to secure one of the most important rights you can hold as a Canadian citizen: the right to complain.
Let’s just say that you don’t vote in this upcoming election, and then, in six months, whichever party won decides to do something that you really don’t like. If you didn’t vote, are you really allowed to complain? Sure, no one’s going to come arrest you if you do, but won’t you feel just a little bit more vindicated if you know that you didn’t vote for that?
It’s probably going to take you less than an hour in total, so you might as well secure your complaining rights for when the next government inevitably screws something up.
4. Person who does care but thinks they can’t make a difference
We only get to cast one ballot at election time and in a country of over 37 million people, it’s easy to see why so many don’t think their vote will make a difference. While not incredibly likely, it’s always possible that a candidate will win your riding by one vote.
A more likely situation is that you live in a riding that almost always votes the same way. If you vote a different way, your voice is drowned out by others. You should still vote though. There’s always a chance that your riding will flip and even if it doesn’t, well hey, at least you’ve secured your complaining rights until the next election.
Some people might believe that no matter who’s in power in this country, no real meaningful change will come about. Again, I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind about anything other than showing up and casting a ballot, so I won’t argue for or against that point. You should still vote though. If you don’t like a single one of the candidates on the ballot you can make that known at the polling station too. Spoiling your ballot means that your vote won’t count, but Elections Canada keeps track of how many ballots are spoiled. So if you’re disillusioned and you hate politicians, you can say that by writing in your dog’s name or crossing off every candidate’s name, or even writing “no thanks” across it. You’re technically throwing your vote away, but it’s better to have that choice counted than to have made no choice at all.
So whether you care a little, care a lot, or aren’t sure what you’re doing—there’s no good reason not to vote if you’re eligible to do so on the 20th.