‘Surprise, we’re voting.’
Students across Canada got involved for this upcoming election and spoke out against the accusation that the youth vote doesn’t count because young people don’t vote.
Based on the decline in youth ballot numbers from last election, politicians assumed that the student vote was a wasted one, since students were considered unlikely to even go to the polls.
Students across the country however, took a stand and made a statement by introducing the vote mob phenomenon.
The idea for vote mobs originated at the University of Guelph when a group of students wanted to retaliate against the wasted youth vote accusation.
Using social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, these students gathered a huge crowd at Guelph to cheer and make a statement to the world that they will be voting in this upcoming election. Their banner read, “Surprise! We’re voting!”
Credit is given to Rick Mercer for inspiring the idea of vote mobs during one of his rants on the Rick Mercer Report.
In his rant, he stated, “Everyone is targeted except for one group — the youth vote. There are more than 3 million young eligible voters in this country and as far as any of the political parties are concerned, you might as well all be dead .… It is the conventional wisdom of all political parties that young people will not vote .… so do the unexpected, vote.”
So, the students of Guelph started up vote mobs and suddenly the challenge was passed onto other universities and colleges across Canada to do the same; show their spirit and make a statement that there are a part of their democracy. And vote mobs spread like wildfire.
Rick Mercer attended the most recent vote mob, held in Victoria Park, London Ontario, hosted by the University of Western Ontario and Fanshawe college.
Mercer said, “When political parties heard that students were having vote mobs, you know what they said? That sounds very disconcerting. And do you know why that is? It’s because they don’t know who you’re voting for. I just want to say congratulations; you’ve scared a bunch of old politicians.”
Mercer added that vote mobs like this, “just make you feel good. A vote mob is a tremendous thing and to see something like this, it has such a positive effect – and it scares the hell out of the powers that be.”
He continued to stress the importance not only of the vote mobs, but of actually following through and voting.
“What you have to do is find someone who you know who is intimidated by voting,” Mercer said. “Is take them by the hand, and take them to vote; it’s a great thing for democracy and who knows, you might even get lucky.”
The Cord asked Mercer if he thought vote mobs would be as effective as they are if Facebook or Twitter weren’t available.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “All of these are possible because of social media. Sure the news can cover something but it’s because of things like Twitter and Facebook, two guys in their bedroom can access the world, and that’s pretty amazing.”
In addition to getting students out to vote for this election, Mercer also noted that these vote mobs could have a very positive effect in the future.
“No one likes to be taken for granted,” he said. “Now students are showing they’re engaged, they’re active, they’re organized. The best part is, after this election, no political party will take the youth vote for granted again.”