When I was growing up, my parents always made sure to bring me with them to the polls so I could see what voting was all about.
My dad would come home from work to make the polls before they closed, and we would walk through the crisp Albertan fall evening to a local elementary school and get in line, usually running into neighbours and family friends.
These are nice childhood memories, but I also appreciate being introduced to the political process as a kid. Political participation is important to me—historically, young people vote relatively less than older people, which can significantly affect the outcomes of elections.
Your vote will be important in the upcoming Canadian federal election, scheduled to take place on October 21.
How do I vote?
You’ve got options! You can vote in person, in advance if you can’t get out on the official election day, by mail, or at an Elections Canada office during the voting period.*
*You must be 18 or older on Election Day, a Canadian citizen, and have proof of your identity and address to vote. If this doesn't apply to you, it's still good to stay informed on why voting matters!
If you came to UBC from another place in Canada outside Vancouver, you may be eligible to vote either in your Vancouver riding or the riding where your family lives, so think about where you’d like to cast your vote (Elections Canada recommends casting your vote in the area you consider home).
Additionally, to vote, you need to be registered. Visit this webpage to determine if you’re already registered. If not, you can register at the polls on Election Day.
Is voting even worth it?
I’ve met people who don’t vote because they feel like their views are not well-represented by the government. But voting is the best way to ensure your views are represented and to encourage like-minded people to run in the future. Even as young people, we have the right to have a say in the government, just like our parents (who tend to vote more often than us).
We all share this society, and we all deserve an equal say in how it’s run, regardless of age. In fact, this election will be the first time millennials and Gen Z’ers (people born after 1980) will make up the biggest voting bloc!
Remember that it’s your responsibility as a Canadian citizen to vote. We may not have mandatory voting like Australia, but voting in Canada is like shoveling the snow on your sidewalk. The more people that don’t shovel, the harder it is to get down the street and the bigger the burden that’s placed on the people who do shovel.
The fewer people that vote, the less effective Canadian democracy is because it’s representing a smaller, less diverse share of the population. This smaller share, therefore, has to make the decision for the whole country, and they might not know what’s best for people outside their situations.
On a personal level, learning about what’s at stake in an election can open your eyes to what’s going on in Canada beyond your circles, and can help you develop empathy by seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.
Okay, but does my vote really matter?
It can feel like your one vote couldn’t possibly make a difference when there are so many other people voting.
But it can!
In the 1972 federal election in Canada, a riding in Manitoba was won by a margin of only 30 votes. In the same election, a riding in Ontario was won by just 4 votes. The NDP and Liberal parties respectively won these 2 ridings.
However, if they hadn’t, the Progressive Conservatives could have won the most seats, and Canadian history might have been very different.
Just think—if fewer than 40 people (out of the nearly 10 million who voted) had been too lazy to go to the polls that day, Pierre Trudeau might not have been re-elected as Prime Minister and his son (some guy named Justin) might still be teaching. Even one vote can be powerful!
Make it fun
My parents would always end up standing around to chat with the neighbours after they had voted before they all eventually realized nobody had eaten dinner yet. Voting is a way of connecting with your community and can be a social event, so have fun with it and bring your friends along.
Voting can be a study break, a chance to go grab food with some buddies afterward, or a great date (okay, I’m kind of joking about the last one…kind of).
One of the reasons that I like voting is that it makes me feel connected to Canada and reminds me that, living here, I have a lot to be grateful for. When I voted in my first federal election in 2015, I really started to feel like I was taking my place as the engaged global citizen I wanted to be—for me, political engagement was a big part of growing up.
Canada isn’t a perfect country, but I am an optimist and hope that with each election we get a little closer to building a place that works for every one of us, no matter who we are or where we come from.