ELECTION 2015: Students reminded of importance in voting

Student-led campaigns target peers with non-partisan message on the need to get political

An on-campus series of all-candidates debates is in the works, thanks to the University of the Fraser Valley’s Student Union Society.

They have invited all local candidates to join in three different debates. The Chilliwack campus will host its debate for the Chilliwack-Hope candidates on Oct. 8 at 12 p.m., in the atrium. Debates for the Abbotsford and Misson-Matsqui ridings will be held on Oct. 1, at the Abbotsford campus.

The debates are part of the Get Out The Vote efforts, which rallies students to encourage each other to vote. Post secondary students are increasingly being reminded that their votes matter, largely through online and on-campus campaigns.

The Get Out The Vote campaign invites students to join their peers as volunteers, campaigning however they know how.

“Whether it is persuading students to vote, knocking on a door, spreading our narrative on social media or entering in data – you can be part of our campaign,” their website says.

“Our campaign was constructed to be aspirational and in truly believing that students can and should have a say in how politics unfold in Canada. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations believes that the best way to make a difference is to ensure we dramatically enhance voter participation amongst students. If we don’t speak up, we can’t expect to be heard.”

On other campuses, where the Canadian Federation of Students are active, a campaign is underway called This Time We Decide.

It’s another student-led campaign, aimed at educating and encouraging each other to get involved in the voting process.

“This election will be close. Incredibly close,” says their website. “Every vote will make a difference.”

The non-partisan campaign is being led by CFS, and includes the hiring of community relations officers for youth and students. They launched the campaign last week, and are hoping to see the message spread across the province. The CFS B.C. represents more than 200,000 post secondary students, at 15 universities and colleges across the province. They are hoping to mobilize 10,000 students to vote, in an effort to get young Canadians involved in democracy.

“This is the most important election in a generation, and it’s going to be extremely close. Students’ votes will make a difference,” said Simka Marshall, Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students-BC.

The CFS says that in in 2011, 6,201 was the combined margin of victory across the 14 most contested government-held ridings in Canada. Five of those ridings came down to less than 250 votes.

To learn more, visit www.getoutthevote.ca and www.thistimewedecide.ca.