The University of Alberta’s Students’ Union (SU) has launched an initiative to encourage university students to actively engage in politics by pledging to vote in the Canadian elections.
Get Out the Vote is a non-partisan campaign aiming to encourage undergraduate post-secondary students across the country to get out and vote in the 2019 federal election. Following SU policy, the campaign does not favour or advertise for any political party. The main objective of the campaign is to get students to exercise their beliefs and cast an informed vote for whichever party they choose.
The SU is running this campaign in partnership with the Canadian Alliance of Student Association (CASA), a federally-focused student advocacy organization that spans over 23 institutions. With a team of approximately 80 volunteers at the U of A, Get Out the Vote is tabling around campus, engaging in one-on-one discussions with students and spreading awareness about the importance of voting.
During the last federal election, CASA ran its first Get Out the Vote campaign. In the same polls, the voter turnout among youth saw an increase of 18 per cent.
While explaining the need to target the university undergraduate students, in particular, SU vice president (external) and Chair of CASA, Adam Brown, mentioned that creating an engaged and active student body is one of the SU’s mandates.
“The youth are the largest voting bloc currently [in the country],” Brown said. “They can have an enormous impact in the coming federal election, but only if they vote”.
Alongside the promotional materials being carried over from the provincial elections, the pledges of around 4000 students are also being carried over to the federal election.
“There is also a lot of stigma and stereotypes about how the youth don’t vote, and their vote doesn’t matter,” Brown added.
Brown said university students are more likely to be away from home. During the school year, the stress of assignments, alongside different commitments, prove to be a hindrance for the youth to be able to vote as they have to go back to their localities to vote.
He said the campaign aims to combat both of these large scale issues by providing students who pledge to vote with information and reminders regarding when and how to vote, plus information for different party campaigns so they can make an informed decision. Students will also have the option to vote on campus a few weeks before the elections in an attempt to eliminate accessibility obstacles.
Brown believes that those who cannot vote in this election, including international students and Canadian citizens under 18, can still have a “considerable impact.”
“Even if they cannot vote, they can grab a few of their friends and drag them to the polling station,” Brown said. “They can still make a change”.
The campaign will be running till the last day of elections, October 21. Brown hopes to get more than 8000 students to pledge to vote for this election.
“The Get Out the Vote Campaign is doing its part,” Brown said. “The students are ready to go [vote].”