October 2, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 20  

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No vote is a vote for apathy

It's finally election time. And while the debates have been heating up across the province between the political parties, voter apathy in student-aged groups has never been higher.

When the polls open today, it's highly unlikely ballot boxes will be stuffed with student votes. Our age demographic has the lowest voter turn-out of any single group, despite our love of bitching about increased tuition fees, needed reform of the Ontario Student Assistance Program and other such issues affecting our lives as students.

So why aren't we voting?

While the argument may follow something along the lines of "what difference does my one vote make?" it's important to note if you don't vote you are giving away your say in political matters. In simple terms - if you don't vote, you don't have the right to bitch.

A group of 22 rag tag editors at The Gazette could hardly decide which candidate to endorse for the London North Centre riding, be it the Conservative Party's Dianne Cunningham, the New Democratic Party's Rebecca Coulter or the Liberal Party's Deb Matthews. It becomes evident every vote does make a difference.

Young people often feel the political world is far removed from their lives, making it difficult to make an informed decision. Further, it has been argued politicians do little to attract the youth vote, perpetuating the cycle of apathy. We don't care about politics and so politics doesn't care about us.

But with today's election, we are now being handed the opportunity to affect change. Until we take it into our own hands and march out and cast ballots, regardless of the party, we will continue to be an un-marketed demographic.

The step into the political realm may seem daunting to many students, especially those who feel they simply do not know enough to make an informed decision. A majority of voters tend to vote along party lines and not necessarily for individual candidates per say, this making party Web sites an invaluable tool. (See the following sites: Liberal www.choosechange.ca, NDP www.publicpower.ca, PC www.ontariopc.on.ca)

Student voter apathy reflects in many cases the simple fact politics are not something which interests a majority of university students. Also, at many times, polling booths tend to be very inaccessible for students. But this year, residence students can vote on campus and for those off-campus residents, photo identification and a bill with an address will get you that slip of paper at the polling stations.

If we want politicians to address issues relevant to the student demographic, then we have to give them a reason to do so. The polls are open today between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. - get out there and vote.




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