Why you should vote

Older generations are over-represented

Political Science Students Society Executive, University of Winnipeg

Voting is the most basic expression of participation in a political system.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Canadian youth do not seem to want to take the time to participate in this way. If this is sufficient persuasion, go! Vote! But, if you need some more arguments, here you go...

Older generations are currently over-represented in our political system. Government policy has a tendency to reflect the views of older people more than youth. Not voting enables this reality in a direct sense - by failing to support those candidates that represent youth issues - and also indirectly perpetuates a political culture that systemically ignores youth issues. A more involved student/youth population will have the effect of encouraging politicians to start paying attention to those issues that young people care about.

So if you aren’t voting because none of the candidates have opinions on the issues you care about, you are responsible for your own apathy; it is because youth don’t vote that politicians don’t cater to youth interests.

If they don’t cater to your interests and you didn’t vote, your complaints lose legitimacy. You have willingly forfeited your chance to make a difference in the political system. There are much better ways to dissent, for example spoiling your ballot as a legitimate form of protest. Even if you are spoiling your ballot, you would get in the habit of voting. Getting involved is the first step to make your protest effective. No one can hear you if you stay home.

Getting in the habit of voting is especially important. While it is not a particularly involved process, getting registered and going through the motions at the voting location is important to experience. Despite its bureaucratic tendencies, voting itself requires little to no effort on your part. As long as you’re nearby, it will take maybe 10 minutes.

A simple cost-benefit analysis will show there really is no valid reason for not voting. The minimal effort required to cast your ballot cannot possibly be more harmful than the cost of not voting. Even if you are actively disdainful of our political system, there is no better way to voice your opinion and attempt to change the status quo than by voting for those who represent your views - or against those that do not.

Published in Volume 69, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 15, 2014)

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