The president of the Okanagan College Faculty Association says students appear to be more engaged in this year’s federal election than in any election in recent memory.
And Tim Walter says if those students realized the voting power that they have, even more might get out and vote.
“There is no question students have massive (voting) power, this is what I have been talking to my students about,” said Walter, an English instructor.
“They have the power but they are completely unaware. If you flip the numbers between voting rates for seniors and students we would have a different prime minister and a different premier.”
With the University of B.C. and Okanagan College, it’s estimated some 20,000 students are hitting the books in the Okanagan.
Walter says those are big numbers of potential voters that can make a difference in this election.
However, past elections have shown that young people don’t get out and vote as much as the older generations.
In the 2011 federal election, according to Elections Canada, just under 39 per cent of eligible voters aged 18 to 24 cast ballots, compared to more than 75 per cent of voters aged 65 to 74.
To get young people engaged and feeling that their vote matters, many have taken to technology and social media, including Matthew Heuman, a former Okanagan College student and now Concordia journalism student.
Heuman developed an app this year called Vote Note in an effort to pick up the slack where he says Elections Canada no longer can, providing voter information in an easy to use app that people can access on their phones.
Heuman says the Fair Elections Act, introduced by the Conservative government, will make it harder for youth to get out and vote.
So the former Penticton resident took it upon himself to develop the app for smart phones to provide the information, not only to the 18 to 24 demographic but to all Canadians.
“We just see this as the next step forward,” said Heuman.
“Everyone has a smart phone and this should have been available 10 years ago. We didn’t reinvent the wheel here, we just made all the resources available in a much more concise way.
“Everything has an app nowadays and the fact we don’t have one for one of the most important processes in the country, we see that as very archaic,” said Heuman.