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How Technology Motivates Young People to Vote

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There’s a political shift happening in the 2018 Vancouver election. No longer are the days of partisan driven politics. Young adults want change for their city and technology is a large influencer to how that change is brought.
Yesterday I got to witness that shift. I attended “Dear City Council” hosted by Creative Coworkers. There we recorded city council and mayoral candidates on Facebook Live. They could address any questions people had before they voted on Saturday. The candidates started off with usual friendly small talk and banter. Boxed wine was passed down the table, and even miniature lego versions of each of the candidates were displayed. I, the young 21 year old bystander, felt no need to speak up in a room full of people twice my age.
I sat quietly in the corner taking notes.
It seemed like it would be a light and casual night for politics. Easy questions were asked and even easier answers were given. I began growing restless and my silence didn’t sit well with me. I don’t think politics should ever be too light and cozy.

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McGill students film their vote mob video for the 2011 federal election on campus.

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I decided to break my silent bystander promise.

I posted a simple question on the livestream: How can you help young people get involved in politics? To me this is an issue I constantly see on the news, on social media, and something I ask myself everyday. Young people are not voting. So how can we change that?
There was a sudden tonal shift in the room. Now, suddenly a group of mostly men (It was six male candidates and one female) twice my age didn’t have easy answers to give. Yikes. Parks board candidate, Matthew Kagis of the Workless Party, brought up the fact that young teenagers could volunteer for things they cared about. City councillor candidate Adrian Crook brought up the fact that many elementary schools were having mock elections this year to get their students encouraged in politics.

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Dear City Council Annual Meeting. Source, Dear City Council Facebook

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Was I not being specific enough? I am thrilled that younger kids are getting involved in politics, but these kids can’t vote yet. It was shocking to realize that no one brought up the generation that could vote and whom I was asking about: young adults.
When the moderator, Esther Tung, another young adult, explained the question better, I got a few inspirational answers:

  • Get your friends involved.
  • Post online. Make politics cool.
  • If you want more young people to be political, be that young awesome political person.

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Be that awesome political person.

I agree with the last line. Social media for years has been an online forum for me to get my political views out there. It has given me the privilege to learn about serious social problems and views that I would have never considered on my own. We are the most exposed generation. And because of that we have a responsibility to take the voice we use for social change online and put it into the act of voting.

But older adults have a responsibility too.

If you want young people to vote, you need to engage and encourage them to vote. Make them feel like their voice matters. When I walked into the room full of older candidates, I didn’t feel like I was welcome there. If me, an already political person, did not feel like I was welcome, can you begin to imagine just how other young, new voters must feel?

Here are the stats and how we can change behaviour.

Since 2006, there’s been a jump in youth voters from 40% to 64% in 2017. Contrary to belief, the youth are voting in Vancouver. Things like the American election and an abuse of power in politics have made young voters care. It’s up to older candidates to use that to their advantage. Use technology and social media as tool to invite young people to have a seat at the table. Once there, engage their views. Make them feel like they are welcome there.
If more candidates could realize the potential of engaging and interacting with young people online. Then maybe we could see not just a jump in young voter turnout, but a true social revolution for a better city.


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