Editorial: Voting informed as a post secondary student

Although the date of the upcoming federal election has been looming for some time, the dissolving of Parliament on Sept. 11 served as a reminder to Canadians that Oct. 21 is approaching very quickly.

For most of us currently enrolled in university, this federal election will be the first in which we get to cast a vote. Voting at any level should be considered a duty and responsibility, but in many ways, the federal vote is seen as more significant. In some ways, this is true: who the people elect in each riding will determine who Canadians choose to represent the face of the nation.

That being said, having the power to choose who represents the interests of over 37 million people should not be a responsibility that is taken lightly. When we turn 18 and are granted the ability to vote, we are also handed the responsibility of making an informed choice.

These duties go hand in hand – and their separation is often what causes the election of an individual or party on the bases of misconception or fear; and for many post-secondary students living without access to TV debates or election-focused radio programming, casting a blind vote can seem like the only option.

We have every opportunity to change the system if we so desire. Without knowing what we might be heading into, though, we risk being labeled self-indulgent and ignorant.

I insist, however, that this is not our reality. We are so privileged in the sense that the world is truly at our fingertips. If we can see news on Twitter and videos on YouTube from halfway across the world, we can just as easily access the platforms of parties to give them a quick scan – or, at least, read an article that summarizes each platform for us all in one place.

How safe do you feel going into a final exam without having done any of your readings? Probably not great. Would you sign a lease to a new apartment without reading any of the terms? Ideally not. Plenty of young Canadians, however, would feel comfortable casting a vote uninformed: perhaps because they may want to vote the way their parents have, or keep a current government in power because they are scared of change.

As the youngest generation of voting age, we have every opportunity to change the system if we so desire. Without knowing what we might be heading into, though, we risk being labeled self-indulgent and ignorant by the generations that mobilized before us.

If every person from 18 to 25 came out and voted informed this fall, we could transform the governance of Canada completely. If the environment is your priority, vote accordingly. If you are passionate about a strong domestic economy, vote accordingly. If you want to see the implementation of pharmacare in your lifetime, vote accordingly. If you’re not sure what you want for the future of this country, or for yourself, for that matter, open a new tab on your laptop and figure it out.

In sum, voting is important – it’s your duty to do so. But if you head to the polls and mark a candidate you read nothing about with an “x,” you’re only doing half of what you left your house and lined up to do. So vote – but vote informed. The future of the nation is in your hands.

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