The LG Youth Advisory Council: Why We Vote (And Why You Should Too!)

The members of the LG Youth Advisory Council are heading to the polls this Saturday to participate in the BC General Election and they want you to join them! Council members Astra, Nic, Furqana and Jonathan share their voting day tips, experiences at the polls during COVID-19 and thoughts on why it’s important for everyone to vote, especially young British Columbians.

Astra, Victoria: I’m voting because it’s clear to me how decisions at every level of government change the everyday lives of the people they affect. I want to see positive effects in the everyday lives of British Columbians.

It’s important to vote, especially for youth; with typical low youth voter turnout, politicians and parties have fewer incentives to listen and cater their policies towards us, leading to less interest in voting from youth, creating a negative cycle for youth voter turnout and a narrative that youth are apathetic to politics. This of course isn’t the case– the Samara Centre for Democracy has done some great research on this topic and found youth are often just as engaged in politics as their older peers, if not more engaged. We just go about it differently. Nonetheless, I’m hoping we can break the cycle of low youth voter turnout. I’ll be encouraging my friends and peers to get out and vote.

There are many different ways we can participate and make our voices heard in our democracy and civic discourse– voting is only the start of our responsibilities. While voting is important, it only lasts a couple days every few years. Action like protesting, signing petitions, contacting your elected officials, participating in mutual aid and grassroots organizing, and donating to non-profits and charitable organizations are everyday ways we can keep our government accountable and support our communities. 

Nicolas, Coquitlam/Vancouver: British Columbia is heading to the polls this coming Saturday and while the pandemic is an obstacle, and the anxieties and worries that come with it are very real, we are lucky to have independent bodies like Elections BC with resources to enable every British Columbian to cast their ballot. From vote-by-mail to advance polls to election day on October 24th, British Columbians have many opportunities to carry out their civic duty in a safe way. With all of these advantages, there’s no reason to not vote.

As a good friend of mine said, “if you can go grocery shopping, you can show up to the polls.” It’s not about what might be the most convenient. Voting is about the collective wellbeing of our province. Irrespective of your political affiliations, voting is an active way to show you care for more than just yourself. I’m voting because in the middle of a global pandemic, a stable government able to formulate a clear path forward to contain the virus, invest in our economic recovery, and protect those most vulnerable is a necessity. When you vote, you do so for the entire province, to see British Columbia come out of this crisis stronger, more resilient, and better equipped to take on the next big challenge. We are at a critical juncture; not voting is not an option. Whatever your views are, it’s simple: put on your favourite mask and head out to cast your ballot.

Furqana, Prince George: When I voted earlier this week, I brought along my 17 year old brother. In an effort to reduce the crowd size inside the voting location, he waited in the car. I could have gone on my own or dropped him off elsewhere while I voted but I didn’t. Next year, when he gets his own voting card in the mail, I want him to see that his family puts voting on the agenda, so he can do the same. I felt safe, I felt excited, and I felt a sense of accomplishment after I voted.  

To those who say “it takes too long”, this was my experience: I needed maybe fifteen minutes on my phone to research the political platforms, followed by five minutes of driving out of my way to vote. There is no excuse not to vote, and there’s no louder way for me to emphasize this than by role modelling it for my family and talking about it with my friends. To those who might say, it doesn’t matter anyway, George Jean Nathan once said “bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote”.

Jonathan, Richmond: Fellow British Columbians, it’s time to take action: the 42nd BC General Election is happening this Saturday, October 24th. And now more than ever, our province needs to hear your voice.

COVID-19 has transformed many facets of our society and voting day is no exception. Many may feel concerned about voting in-person or having to drive a long way, but please be assured that pandemic protocols will be in place to create a safe voting environment. In addition, voting locations are scattered across the province so no matter where you are living, you won’t have to spend two hours on the road to drop your ballot.

Voting is especially important during this pandemic. With your ballot, you can decide what policies and regulations should be implemented to cope with the pandemic. By choosing not to vote, you are giving up your constitutional right as a citizen and the power to control where your taxes will be spent!

Never think that one vote won’t make a difference. If this message can convince even just ten people to vote, it will make a great impact in the community and our future. Ten votes can change results, and ten people who vote can go on and encourage more to partake. The voting system is the fundamental building block of our democracy, and you are essential to the voting system.

Haven’t cast your vote yet? Vote from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day this Saturday, October 24th at your local polling station. Find the locations where you can go to vote here. If you’ve got a mail-in ballot that you haven’t sent yet, drop it off at your local polling station or District Electoral Office. And wherever you go, don’t forget to wear a mask!

Not registered to vote? You can register and/or update your information when you go to your local polling station! First check that you’re eligible, and make sure you bring the right ID with you!