In the upcoming Federal election, individuals between the ages of 18-38 will make up the largest group of eligible voters. If you’re reading this, you’re probably part of that statistic. This means that you have an incredibly important choice to make—whether you will make the conscious effort to go out and vote. As a fellow citizen, let me help you make that decision. For this and every other election—federal, provincial, municipal and/or territorial—you are going to vote.

As an adult within our society, you must recognize that you have an obligation to improve the space that you occupy. This begins with making sure you take every opportunity that you have to vote. Voting is so much more than expressing who you’d like to see serve as your Member of Parliament. It sends a clear message to all political parties. It says “I am here and I want to be heard.”

Rallying, protesting, and petitioning are excellent outlets to further certain causes, but there’s something critical to note. If you’ve ever heard a politician speak you may have heard them say something along the lines of “I represent the people of …” or “the people of … elected me to be their voice in the House.” This phrase is typically one that is said when politicians want to remind people that they are listening to their constituents, but for a great many of these politicians you are only a voice if you’re a voter. Political parties and politicians will only be your voice (implement policies you want) if they represent you. This is because, as I have previously alluded, politicians are rarely accountable to anyone. An electorate works towards ensuring that they are held accountable—but an electorate without youth is like a university without students.

Your individual ballot probably means nothing, but you have to realize that you are not voting alone. Within this university, (irrespective of your political affiliations), there are tens of thousands of people who want to be heard and they won’t be unless we all take the initiative upon ourselves to vote. It is our individual actions that affect the group.

Further, casting your ballot is more than expressing that you have done your due diligence in looking into a party’s platform. It shows that you are not apathetic to political discourse and that you recognize that this right that you have is one that is denied to some people. And just for the record, we don’t have to go very far to see people being denied the right to vote. According to the CBC, in the 2015 Federal election, more than ten voters from a First Nations community were prevented from casting a vote because the polling station ran out of ballots.

Besides some minor exceptions, if you are an eligible voter you must vote. If you don’t vote, you cannot complain about the nature of the situation you find yourself in. Vocalizing your distaste with a specific policy or perspective begins at the ballot box. This year, be heard, be seen, and be counted.

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