Langara College students alarmingly apathetic to upcoming provincial election

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Reported by Ben Bulmer

Langara student registers to vote in upcoming provincial election
Elections BC at Langara on March 7. Canadian citizens who have lived in B.C for six months can register online or at their local polling station on election day, with two pieces of ID. Photo: Ben Bulmer

The B.C. provincial election will be held on May 14 and although the B.C. government sets sales taxes, runs schools, funds student loans and is responsible for everything from the price of car insurance to hydro bills, the majority of Langara students likely won’t be voting in the upcoming election.

Why students don’t vote

The reasons for not voting range from not caring, to feeling alienated from politics, to not knowing when elections happen.

“I didn’t even know that there was an approaching election,” said Langara student Rachel Lindsay.

Student Lucas Prime said he didn’t care about voting, “I don’t complain. It’s not really going to change no matter who the leader is right now.”

“I don’t have any interest in politics. In my house we never talked about it, and because of that I’ve just never been interested in it,” said student Wes McKim who confirmed he wouldn’t be voting.

The stats behind the facts

According to Elections BC around one third of people aged 18 to 34 voted in the 2009 provincial election. Over the last 30 years, voter turnout has declined with each election, especially in young people. Seniors comprise the highest voter turnout at about 75 per cent.

The result of student apathy

Langara political science instructor Paul Prosperi says political parties look to see who votes for them and then cater their policies towards these people. This in turns creates a vicious cycle where young people feel mainstream political parties don’t reflect their views and therefore don’t vote.

Prosperi says another reason young people don’t vote is because of the structure of the political system. Because of the first past the post, winner takes all set up, many young people feel that their votes don’t count said Prosperi.

“Beyond social media, beyond any other outreach, the best way of reaching people is changing the system and making it more meaningful for them, so their votes actually do count,” Prosperi said.

Langara peace and conflict student Danielle McAllister said she probably wouldn’t vote because she didn’t agree with the voting system.

“First past the post system isn’t my type of voting system, so I won’t participate,” said McAllister. “I’m registered to vote in Port Moody, where it doesn’t matter who I vote for, the same party always wins.”

Fine arts student Holly Clarke said she would vote but wasn’t sure who for and wanted to educate herself more, though she thought many don’t take the time to get informed.

“It takes a lot of effort to get educated about who to vote for. So instead of just voting for whomever they just won’t vote,” said Clarke.

Students can register to vote if they are Canadian citizens and have lived in B.C. for the last six months. Students can register online, or at their local polling station on election day, with two pieces of identification.

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  1. Rob Dykstra says

    So students don’t care about voting in the next provincial election? If the majority of people who vote are “older” government priorities will reflect that. You know what they say: Use it or lose it.

  2. The Voice Online

    […] week’s issue of The Voice had a story about students being apathetic about voting with some not even aware of the upcoming election. How […]

  3. The Voice Online

    […] Prosperi disagrees, however, with labeling youth as disinterested. […]

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