(Photo: Kelly Roche/QEW South Post)
BY KELLY ROCHE
Paulina Orocz is heading to the polls Monday to vote in her first federal election.
“I think it’s important for kids our age to know what’s going on in the world, not just what handbag we’re going to buy tomorrow or what shoes,” said Orocz, 20.
“It’s good to hear teenagers talking about other things.”
Orocz lives in the Dixie Mall area and said while she isn’t certain who she’s supporting, “it’s on us” as youth to take part in the democratic process.
“We are the future,” she said.
Roughly 39 per cent of youth aged 18 to 24 voted in May 2011, according to Elections Canada, with 61 per cent of electors turning out overall.
Numbers may increase this time around. An estimated 3.6 million electors voted at advance polls over the Thanksgiving long weekend — a 71 per cent increase from 2011, Elections Canada reported.
In preliminary estimates 13,206 ballots were cast in Mississauga-Lakeshore, and overall, October 9 and 12 were the busiest days with 850,000 and 1.2 million Canadians voting.
Kayla Johnson wasn’t one of them — the Square One area resident said she isn’t voting.
“I haven’t found a candidate that completely aligns with my ideas so at this point, my not voting is literally just me saying like, I’m going to exercise my right not to vote,” said Johnson, 24.
She said she’d rather have no say than voting “just for the sake of voting.”
Johnson noted her parents don’t vote. “They’re not particularly interested in it at all,” she said.
Neither is Montana Brown.
The 18-year-old lives in Clarkson and said she doubts she’ll be voting “because I don’t know anything” about politics.
“I just don’t pay attention to it,” said Brown. “I don’t want to vote unless I know everything.”
Brown said she finds university students are much more engaged in politics.
Kevin MacDonald, 19, is one of them. He’s studying psychology at McMaster University and election talk is “everywhere,” he said.
The economy, ISIS, and foreign policy are issues MacDonald has his eye on as a first-time federal elector.
“Everyone dislikes most of the candidates,” MacDonald said of peers on campus and within his extended social circle.
But he said it’s still important to participate.
“I’d like to say I tried to make a difference, even if it doesn’t go the way I want,” said MacDonald.
Hira Asif, 18, of Port Credit is unsure about taking part.
The deciding factor is likely “if my parents make me go and vote,” said Asif.
Apathy among youth is nothing new.
“We don’t really know exactly what percentage of young people vote,” said University of Toronto political science professor Nelson Wiseman.
“It’s based on surveys, and what people say in a survey and what they do can be different.”
Nonetheless, “there’s no doubt – because we’ve had a lot of surveys by different pollsters – that young people vote at a lower turnout rate,” Wiseman said.
Whether turnout will increase “among that group this time around, I have no idea. I doubt it’ll be very much different from last time,” Wiseman said.
Election day is tomorrow.
Click here to find out what you’ll need to take to the polling station.