SFU Burnaby students value democracy

Voter turnout among the 18 to 35 demographic is a shared concern with all levels of government in Canada.

But the importance of democracy was not lost on SFU students in a recent streeter by the NOW. In contrast to the stereotype that young people are disinterested in voting, students at the university’s Burnaby campus expressed their concerns with local government and explained why they are casting their ballots this November.

“I feel like if I don’t vote, I’m wasting my time,” said psychology student Sabeha Ramji. “I’m going to live here for years to come – why not put my word in?”

Many of the students polled referenced the lack of democracy in other parts of the world as a strong reason to vote in the upcoming municipal election.

“It’s important because we have the opportunity to,” said Naseeba Kara, a health science major. “There are so many countries in the world that don’t.

“I’m not a very politically knowledgeable person, but just having the opportunity, I think I should take more advantage of it.”

While seniors tend to vote in record numbers – really, it’s not just something Lisa Simpson said – young voters account for only 15 per cent of all ballots cast, even though they make up about 30 per cent of the population.

The under-35 age group is a challenging crowd to reach, so politicians may address the concerns of older generations to garner votes. At least, that’s how 18-year-old engineering student Ricky Guan sees it.

“That’s definitely the case sometimes,” he said. “Why would they bother to cater to our needs if we’re not even going to vote for them?”

In the last municipal election, Burnaby’s overall voter turnout dropped to 23.29 per cent, down from 23.49 per cent in 2008. Based on the 2011 numbers, if every young person voted in the last election, the turnout would’ve been just shy of 50 per cent.

And that’s what these students hope for: someone to engage their non-voting friends.

“Down the road,” said Guan, “there’s going to be that one guy who caters to the youth and they turn out to vote.

“We definitely want to be heard.”


© Burnaby Now

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