Anyone considering candidacy would be ill-advised to dismiss the collective power of young electors in the NWT. Young electors are, more than ever, aware of the movements of southern young electors that are increasingly rising up and using of their ballots to address issues of importance to them.
The 2017 BC General Election saw a seven percent increase in turn out of voters less than 45 years of age. The recent turn out in the Alberta General Election also increased from 57 to 64 per cent. Although full demographic analysis is not complete, it is not unreasonable to assume a fair portion of that seven percent increase may be attributed to young elector engagement.
It is becoming statistically apparent, on a global level, that the young have now begun to understand that collectively they are a force to be reckoned with at the polls, and that there is power in numbers in coming together to determine who is best suited to represent their ideals and shape their future. One has to wonder what the government of the NWT look like if the young decided to stand up and be counted.
We know 80 per cent of people from 18 to 35 years old did not vote in 2015 Territorial General Election. Young electors in Yellowknife in particular were the biggest no-shows, with only 16.7 per cent casting ballots. Is the absence: a) the fault of the young themselves (millennial blame game), or b) were they adequately educated or raised to understand the importance of elector engagement, or c) have they simply been overlooked as a potential elector as they rarely possess substantial influence and affluence that can be leveraged?
With greater certainty, electors in a consensus style government face a lot more work when trying to determine who would best represent them. Northern elections present as 19 electoral districts of independent candidates. Electors do not have the pleasu
re of sitting back and watching the antics of political parties play out in front of them on social media and then ultimately choose to side with a group/party that best aligns with their personal ideals.
So, as an unseasoned elector, the burden of determining what matters to one, formulating questions to pose to those asking for their vote, and obtaining the information an elector needs to make a decision can be a struggle.
Anyone seriously invested in the future of the North must consider embracing the ‘it takes a village’ philosophy and encourage young elector engagement. Let’s agree voting is new ground for the young, mentoring isn’t hard and we’re all in this together.
So moving forward let’s all:
- support the #truantnomore initiative and the young election ambassadors in the communities across the NWT;
- recommend Electorhood.ca as a tool to be informed, ready and to participate;
- ensure the young away from home have an awareness and engage with the online absentee ballot platform; and,
- always promote exercising ones vote in a ‘you matter’ kind of way.
Inclusion comes in many forms.
This is the sixth of an eight-week informational series from Elections NWT in News/North leading up to the Oct. 1 election.
Next week, we will look at accessibility for electors. Until then, visit electionsnwt.ca for any information you might need. And of course, go ahead create your account at electorhood.ca.