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'They want their voices heard': Future Majority mobilizing youth vote in Newmarket-Aurora

'Across the board, what we’re hearing from these young people is they want these politicians to be prioritizing youth issues,' regional organizer Meshall Awan says of the voters who compile 40% of the electorate
2021-09-15-Youth voting Newmarket-Aurora-JQ
Future Majority canvassed young voters in downtown Newmarket Sept. 15, including Aashita (from left), Samantha Maratta, Jared Klein, Sanjoli, Michelle Blight, Satina Quotde, Renee Yik and Meshall Awan.

Future Majority regional organizer Meshall Awan said she believes the youth vote could be a record-breaking force in this year’s election.

Canvassing in Newmarket’s downtown with a contingent Sept. 15, Awan spoke optimistically about youth voter turnout. Although the age group has historically lower turnout rates relative to the older population, Awan said the non-partisan non-profit voting organization has been working for months to mobilize young voters in anticipation of an election.

“For the first time in history, young people make up the largest voting bloc,” Awan said. “Across the board, what we’re hearing from these young people is they want these politicians to be prioritizing youth issues.”

Young people aged between 18 and 35 make up about 40 per cent of the electorate according to Future Majority, including 800,000 new eligible voters in this year’s election. The organization has sought to mobilize them across the country with canvassing, social media and virtual meetings. 

“We’re utilizing really great tactics that were used in the 2020 U.S. presidential election that we know were proven to be successful among young people,” Awan said.

Issues at the forefront of the minds of young voters include climate change and job stability, she said.

“Most young people are not specifically loyal to one party. What we do want is all parties talking about youth issues, whether that’s mental health, climate change, green jobs, racial injustice, Indigenous reconciliation,” Awan said. 

To that end, the organization has created a, which features voting information and videos of party leaders discussing issues important to young Canadians. 

But youth voting is facing a hurdle with Elections Canada’s decision not to have on-campus polling stations due to the pandemic.

“Given that student presence on campus was uncertain because of the pandemic, and that no clear fixed election date could be provided to administrators to help them plan, in fall 2020 we made the difficult decision to reallocate the resources needed for Vote on Campus to other service offerings that would help us deliver the election to all electors," Elections Canada said on its website.

“It’s really unfortunate, and it definitely is a failure for a lot of young Canadians,” Awan said. “Young people are more politically engaged than ever. They want their voices to be heard, and this makes it harder for them to do so.” 

Still, Awan said she expects a strong youth voter turnout despite any pandemic-related challenges.

“Young people want to have their voices heard. Young people want politicians to be prioritizing them, and they are going to do what they can to make sure they do cast their ballot.”