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Strategies to improve youth voter turnout discussed at seminar

Archer is the face of Elections BC, a non-partisan organization which operates solely as the governing body for provincial elections in BC. Though Archer himself doesn’t work with federal elections, his lecture’s focus was applicable.

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By Jeffrey Trainor (The Cascade) – Email

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In light of the coming federal election in October, UFV welcomed BC Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Keith Archer last Wednesday, September 16.

Archer is the face of Elections BC, a non-partisan organization which operates solely as the governing body for provincial elections in BC. Though Archer himself doesn’t work with federal elections, his lecture’s focus was applicable. Archer visited UFV to discuss how Elections BC is working to improve the participation of youth voter turnout. The lecture was poorly-attended, with only a handful of students in the audience.

Coincidentally, Archer’s seminar topic was pertaining to apathy among young voters. Archer noted that in the 2009 provincial election only 37 per cent of youth from ages 18 to 30 voted. In 2013, that number slightly increased to 46 per cent. Archer explained that these numbers are far below the participation of older subsections of the population.

“Anybody in the age group 35 and above had seen almost no change in their voter turnout,” he said.

“Almost all the decline is due to youth disengagement.”

In light of this, Archer highlighted some ways Elections BC is working to improve turnout. These suggestions included improving the quality of the voters list by getting more young people registered.

Elections BC’s strategy is to target high school students who are nearing legal voting age. Archer said he hopes that this would also include collaborating with high school social studies classes. He also mentioned that Elections BC is working to incorporate new technology that may appeal to young voters in terms of convenience and familiarity. But, as Archer mentioned, most think that it is just their parents who should decide.

After the seminar, Archer and Associate Dean of Faculty in the College of Arts Ken Brealey announced that UFV will look to work with Elections BC to offer multi-disciplinary courses to help expand information on voting.

“The project that we are introducing with the University of the Fraser Valley will be directed towards helping us either understand [how to improve voter turnout] and [to help] position our response to declining voter turnout by youth better,” he said.

These courses are set to begin in Winter 2016.

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