EDITORIAL | Don’t let your ballot go unchecked

Editorials Opinions
Stock photo via Pixabay

Every four years, the 338 seats in the House of Commons reset. Like the take out food your roommate left in the fridge, politicians tend to go bad if left unchecked for a while. Hence, why we have elections. 

On Oct. 21, you have the chance to vote for one representative that will go to Ottawa for you. With 338 seats in the House of Commons, voting for just one may seem like a meaningless task. After all, one out of 338 isn’t much. But this election is the closest, tightest Canadian federal election in the last decade — if not the last century. One riding could decide, as it nearly did in B.C. in the provincial election, who holds the power in the House of Commons. 

Your vote matters. Young people are the largest demographic voting bloc — they (we) could decide the entire election. 

And this isn’t suggesting that all of the young people in the nation are going to vote for the same party or parties. Abacus Data studied millenials in Canadian politics — those born between 1980 and 2000 — and found that 37 per cent of all voters are part of that group. If those 37 per cent showed up and voted in their ridings, it would inevitably influence the outcome of the election. 

In 2011, about 39 per cent of Candians aged 18 to 24 voted in the 2011 federal election. For the 2015 election, 57 per cent of voters in this age group went to the polls — the largest demographic increase Elections Canada has recorded since it started collecting data in 2004.

Already, 9 111 300 students have participated in advanced polls on campuses across the country — up from more than 70 000 campus voters in 2015. These numbers indicate that 2019 will be another historic year for youth voter turnout. 

GoVoteCanada.ca has taken political science data and public polls to estimate what would happen if young voters actually showed up for a party. Their site features a sliding scale that essentially illustrates how that 37 per cent bloc could influence the riding’s votes. For example, in Victoria, let’s say the Conservative party was polling at 26 per cent and the Liberals were polling at 30 per cent. If two thirds of the millenials in Victoria voted for the Conservative party and the rest voted for the Liberals, the Conservatives would have 50 per cent of the vote and would win that riding. 

Any of the parties would see an increase in their polling numbers if millenials sided with them. This is all hypothetical and should not be considered an endorsement for any particular party. 

We are still, oddly enough, voting in a First Past the Post (or Single Member Majority) voting system. This means that one vote could swing the whole riding in a candidates favour and one of those coveted 338 seats could decide the balance of power in the House of Commons. If 37 per cent of eligible voters actually went to the polls, that would hypothetically mean that 37 per cent of the votes in any given riding would be young, millennial voters. With First Past the Post, that is incredibly significant. 

So, go fucking vote. Even if you vote for a candidate that you don’t feel will win, that vote is still taking away from another candidate and calculated into the party’s overall popular vote percentage. Voting offers a snapshot into where Canada’s political opinions are at, so it’s an important way to support what kind of country you believe Canada should become. No vote is ever a waste. 

And it’s important to remember that voting is a start, but alone is not enough to accomplish meaningful change. Issues like systemic racism, Indigenous reconciliation, and the climate crisis require the ongoing attention of everyone in Canada. So once the results come in on election day, make sure you’re paying attention to what our representatives are — and aren’t — doing to take action on the things that matter.

This is the closest election Canada has had in a long time. Given the current polls of the ridings around UVic, and how close the election is federally, there is no reason to believe that your vote doesn’t matter.