On Oct. 4, thousands of Manitobans will go to the polls for our 40th provincial election, but if voter turnout follows past statistics, young people could be underrepresented at the polling stations.
Low voter turnout amongst young people is an issue in elections at all levels of government. For example, in the 2008 federal election, 37.4 per cent of eligible voters ages 18-24 cast a ballot, compared with 58.8 per cent of all eligible voters.
Mary Skanderbeg, manager of elections operations for Elections Manitoba, stressed that the best way to get young people to vote is to make it easy for them. This year, Elections Manitoba will have advance voting stations on all university campuses, allowing students to vote in the week leading up to election day.
Any Canadian citizen over the age of 18 who has lived in Manitoba for six months before election day is eligible to vote in the upcoming provincial election.
University of Manitoba students won’t need to go farther than University Centre to cast a vote. An advance voting station will be located at the Fireside Lounge, across from Tim Hortons, from Sept. 24 to Oct. 1, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m..
Voters will need a piece of government-issued identification, such as a driver’s licence, or two other documents with their name to vote at this or any of the other advance voting stations across the province.
Students who are out of the province will also have the opportunity to vote; students who are studying abroad and plan to return to Manitoba after their studies simply need to apply as an absentee voter and will be able to vote via mail.
Cameron Klayh, a University 1 student, plans to vote.
“Our opinion matters too,” said Klayh. “If nobody shows up our opinion goes unheard.”
However, some students the Manitoban spoke with were not as enthusiastic about casting their ballots. Vidhi Trivedi, a second-year science student, said she does not plan to vote, arguing there needs to be more student-related topics discussed by the provincial candidates.
Skanderbeg urges young people to learn as much as they can and make an informed decision, stressing that it is important for young people to take advantage of their “civic entitlement.”