Voting Mythbusters!

The election is today and there are lots of misinformation flying around regarding who can vote, how to vote and where. So we are here to bust those myths and make sure you know you can vote! But first, remember to contact us if you have any questions about voting today. Text or call: 519-766-3612

Myth #1: I can’t vote because I didn’t register.

False! All Canadian citizens over the age of 18 can vote. You do not need to be registered ahead of time to vote, you can register at the polls when you go vote.

Myth #2: I can’t vote because I didn’t get a Voter Information Card (VIC).

False! The VIC tells you where your polling station is. It is not a piece of ID and it cannot dictate if you can vote or not. If you didn’t get a VIC that's ok Catstronaut will tell you how to find your polling station:

  If the information online is not clear, call Elections Canada 1-800-463-6868.

 

If the information online is not clear, call Elections Canada 1-800-463-6868.

Myth #3: I can’t vote because “I’m not on the list”

False! Not being on the voter lists means that you were not previously registered but you can register at the polls. Statements such as “not on the list” is one of the ways the technical language of Elections Canada can be discouraging.

Myth #4: I can't vote because I don’t have anything with my new address.

False! If you cannot find any form of documentation with your current address on it (see full list) you can still vote! Show 2 pieces of ID with your name and have someone who knows you attest to your address. This person must show proof of identity and address, be registered in the same polling division, and attest for only one person.

Myth #5: I can vote in my home riding from my riding at school.

False! If you are a student and you wanted to vote for your home riding, you will not be able to do that on October 19th. You must vote for the riding that your school is located in given you are able to prove your address in that riding. Most students who are at school will have a lease or a utility bill that will have their school address on it to use to vote in their school riding. If you want to vote in your home riding you will need to go home (hopefully it’s not too far away!)

This post was written by Yvonne Su (Seriously call me if you have any questions: 519-766-3612)

There’s a big problem with Elections Canada’s “register to vote” message

Elections Canada's advertisement on a subway in Toronto

Elections Canada's advertisement on a subway in Toronto

TORONTO, ON (October 8, 2015) - Be the Vote and Vote Savvy are raising concern over Elections Canada’s unwillingness to be clear about the fact that voters can register at the polls in the 2015 federal election.

After six weeks of heavy advertising to "register to vote", Elections Canada has failed to mention on social media, television, or radio, that registering or updating registration, can be done at the polls.

Furthermore, over 84% of the voter’s list was completed before the election, meaning the large majority of Canadians are already set up to vote, and did not need to go online or call Elections Canada to register.

Be the Vote and Vote Savvy are concerned that unless Elections Canada takes immediate action to correct their messaging, people will be deterred from voting. Currently Elections Canada plans to change their communications on October 13 to tell people they can register at the polls, but this will be too late.

“When you bombard the airwaves for almost two months telling people to register, people are going to think they need to go through a ‘registration process’ before-hand”, says Elizabeth Dubois, Executive Director of Vote Savvy. “For new voters, this makes the voting process seem overly complicated. It is also a huge inconvenience for people going through these unnecessary steps”.

Currently there is scarce mention of the ability for voters to register or update registration at the polls on the Elections Canada website. The Voter Information Cards (VICs) sent in the mail did not contain this information either.

“The Fair Elections Act does not allow Elections Canada to encourage voting, but it does allow them to get all the facts across about how to vote”, say Kennedy. “Their mandate isn’t being met, and public interest is at stake, when this sort of information is not made apparent.”

Be the Vote and Vote Savvy are urging Elections Canada to put significant resources behind advertising a clear message that everyone can vote,  that registration can take place at the polls, and that people do not need VICs because they can find their poll location online or by calling Elections Canada. This applies to advanced polls as well which are open October 9-12.

Here are the facts:

  1. Voters must technically be registered/added to the voter’s list, but this can be done at the polls. You can update VIC information at the poll.

  2. You can find your poll location online by entering your postal code.  You do not need a VIC to vote.

  3. Make sure you have valid ID: www.VoterID.ca (this easy to remember url redirects to the Elections Canada ID page). Your VIC is not a valid piece of ID.

 

For more information, please contact:

Grace Kennedy
Executive Director, Be the Vote
204-799-6526
grace@bethevote.ca

Elizabeth Dubois
Executive Director, Vote Savvy
902-809-0612
votesavvy@gmail.com

About Be the Vote

Be the Vote is a non-partisan not-for-profit organization, led by a group of young Canadians passionate about getting youth to vote. Be the Vote is powered by volunteers and works on creative awareness campaigns to foster a wider-spread culture of political engagement in Canada.

About Vote Savvy

Vote Savvy is a non-partisan not-for-profit aimed at making it easy for young people to learn about the political issues that matter to them. Vote Savvy is active on campuses across the country encouraging youth to engage in their political system through an online survey tool, vote mobs and shareable videos.

Ask Your Boss for Your 3 hrs Off

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The election is only 3 weeks away, but no one has talked about the biggest barrier to voting: Life.

According to Statistics Canada, 22.9% of people surveyed cited ‘Too Busy’ as their reason for not voting in the 2011 federal election. This is not surprising given that 15.4 million Canadians commute to work and 50% of the population works full-time. While employers are legally obligated to give their employees 3 consecutive hours to vote, few are aware of this law and 3 hours is just not enough. This is particularly important in Western Canada where the polls close at 7pm or 7:30pm.

To address this issue, Vote Savvy teamed up with VoteNote - a free voting app - to advocate for a half-day of democracy, where employers are asked to give their workers more time off to vote on October 19th.

Our concern is that beyond general busyness, voters are faced with a new barrier this election: not being able to use their voter information card as official ID. Under the Fair Election Act, voter information cards can no longer be used as a piece of ID. In 2011, 400,000 voters used the cards as official ID on Election Day. This election, those people may be turned away at the polls only to find that when they have found the right ID the polls have closed.

We are also asking Canadians to pledge to a half-day of democracy by exercising their right to have time off to vote. Specifically, young people working at fast food restaurants are vulnerable because they may not feel empowered to ask their employer for their entitled time off.

Half-day of democracy was inspired by our neighbours down south where Election Day is a civic holiday in Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. Globally, a number of countries such as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, India, and New Zealand make voting accessible by holding elections on either weekends or holidays.

Blog written by Yvonne Su

 

Say my name?

Can you name them? (Photo credit Meredith Miller)

Can you name them? (Photo credit Meredith Miller)

Think fast: Who were the members of Destiny’s Child in 2000?!

Beyoncé… Kelly… and Michelle? Nope! It’s Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin (thank you Wikipedia).

Like political leaders, the members of the once notorious Destiny’s Child has changed and can be hard to keep track. It's the same struggle 18-24 year olds are facing when they vote for the 1st time in their life this month.

Think fast! Who are the four political party leaders?!

Justin Trudeau, Elizabeth May, Thomas Mulcair, and Stephen Harper!

This is probably not the response of most 18-24 year old Canadians and it’s not that surprising because no one really teaches them about politics.

This orientation week, the University of Guelph organized a Political Ice Cream event. We had 4 flavours in the colours of the political parties and the students had to name the leaders to get a scoop. Easy peasy, right?

Wrong! In the 2 hours that we scooped ice cream, over 200 students came thru and while everyone could name one leader – aka Beyoncé - less than 10% of the students were able to name all four.

While some may find this worrying and think young people need to learn more about politics, we would agree but also point the finger at the educational system that currently does a bad job of teaching political literacy to future voters.

In conversation with his high school teacher, Dustin Garron – University of Ottawa student* – found that Civics, a grade 10 course taught in high schools in Ontario, is the teacher’s most failed course. According to the curriculum, the half-credit course is suppose to “enable students to develop their understanding of what it means to be a responsible citizen and to explore various elements of the citizenship framework.”

Yet, lack of political knowledge is commonly cited by youth as one of the top reasons for not voting. So clearly, youth are not pickin’ up what Civics is puttin’ down…

So this election, I’d like to ask everyone to put down their pitchforks and their hunt for the ‘apathetic’ youth, and instead extend a hand to help. By labeling young people as ‘apathetic’ we are pushing them away from their democratic right to exercise their vote.

So this election season, let’s not forget what we were like when we were 18-24 years old and cut these young folks some slack. Commit to speaking with a first time voter about the process and the politics instead and we will all be better for it.

 

Blog written by Yvonne Su with help from contributor Dustin Garron. 

*Dustin currently sits on the Youth Council of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and is an amazing public speaker on youth mental health.

 

 

Mad Max: Election Road

Following a nuclear holocaust, Canada has become a desert wasteland and civilization has collapsed. The Great Lakes are barren and dry and the populations of beavers, moose and grizzlies have been decimated. A woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in search of her homeland with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max.

If this happened to Canada today, which political party leader would be the best leader in a post apocalyptic Mad Max world where resources are scarce and the roads are ruled by godless thugs with ridiculous cars? Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, Elizabeth May or Thomas Mulcair?

This was the question asked to 67 University of Guelph movie-goers on September 13th, 2015 and their answers and reasoning may surprise you.

Here are the most interesting answers for the students' choices:

Stephen Harper: “Harper is a hard ass.” “He can rule with an iron fist, there is no other way to survive this.”

Justin Trudeau: “Trudeau has youth on his side and he looks like he can take a punch.” “Trudeau can relate to the people.”

Elizabeth May: “May knows how to grow things.” “May would work towards rebuilding the environment.” “May would be a great addition to the lady biker gang.”

Thomas Mulcair: “Always choose Mulcair.” “Socialism”

None of the above: “None of them would survive.”

Our unscientific survey results :)

Our unscientific survey results :)

From this very unscientific survey, you can see that young people have very different opinions about the four party leaders and how they would do as the leader of a Mad Max world. While all of the leaders had various characteristics to contribute to post-apocalyptic rule, it seems that Justin Trudeau’s youth and his ability to fight makes him the viewer’s choice for assisting Furiosa in rebuilding Canada.

A fun fact is that Justin Trudeau can indeed take a punch as well as throw one. He won a charity boxing match in 2011 against Senator Patrick Brazeau. This is no cinematic masterpiece but it is entertaining.***

Warning: This video contains some boxing, which may be triggering for some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.

***This piece is a fun piece and reflects the results of the unscientific survey we undertook but please note Vote Savvy is non-partisan and does not endorse any one party.

Blog written by Yvonne Su.

Eminem, 5 Million Millenials and Our One Shot

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‘Look, if you had, one shot, or one opportunity. To seize everything you ever wanted. In one moment. Would you capture it, or just let it slip?’

Those are the famous lyrics at the beginning of Eminem’s song - “Lose Yourself”. While Eminem is speaking about getting ready for a rap battle that his career hinged on, it's not too different than the decision that faces young people on October 19th.

There are about 5 million people aged 18-29 in Canada and these Millennials make up 20% of voters. That's about the same number of total votes cast that gave the Conservative Party a majority government. Think about that. Millennials can technically elected a government if they wanted to. But they don’t and people don’t really know why.

A whopping 59% of voters under the age of 30 did not vote in 2011. A startling amount considering that like Eminem, their careers, their lives and their street cred are dependent on which party is elected to power.

I think Millennials don’t vote because there are no institution that educates young people about our political system beyond high school Civics class. So where do young people learn about politics? To find out, Vote Savvy in partnership with IBM and researchers from the University of Oxford and Carleton University have designed the Savvy Survey. It aims to learn how young people access information about politics in order to better engage them in this and future elections.

Another reason why Millennials don't vote is because politicians rarely contact young people. A recent report by Samara found that political leaders fail to contact young Canadians. Almost half of the over 2000 young people surveyed have not been contacted by political leaders and leaders rarely make stops or do photo-ops in places where young people are. We have seen campaign speeches with adults, boy scouts and a monitor with the Netflix logo on it but a backdrop of Millenials resisting hard not to check their smartphones is few and far between.

Recognizing the general lack of attention to youth, Vote Savvy was started to empower voters and bring young people to the fore. Building off of the momentum of the Vote Mob movement in 2011 - Vote Savvy will be running Vote Mobs across Canada. The first Vote Mob took place at the University of Guelph on September 7th and the next Vote Mob will take place at the University of Carleton. Vote Mobs have also been scheduled at the University of Ottawa, McGill University, George Brown, University of Toronto and there is more to come.

Vote Mobs bring together young people to make a statement that they will vote and their issues matter. It’s an opportunity for young people to get informed and empowered to make their voices heard. Contact us to organize a Vote Mob today! :)

Are the Toronto Maple Leafs The Cause for Decreasing Voter Turnout!?!

Let's talk about two of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s favourite things, politics and hockey. The Toronto Maple Leafs is the most fiscally successful hockey franchise in the NHL. Despite winning the second most Stanley Cups in NHL history, the last Stanley Cup victory was in 1967. Similarly, since the 1960s, voter turnout has declined from 79% to 61%.  Coincidence? I would ask your local hockey guru.

In the 2007-2008 season, the Toronto Maple Leafs traded three draft picks for Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell combined. Both Toskala and Bell were flops in the long run. Toskala only playing for the Leafs for one season as their starter and Mark Bell only played for the Marlies. Similar to the Toronto Maple Leafs bad luck in the 2007-2008 season, the 2008 election hosted the lowest voter turnout since Confederation, at 58.8% of the population. Could this have been a coincidence or do the Leafs affect our turnout patterns?

In the most recent election, voter turnout slightly increased from the worst ever, 58.8%, to 61.1%. Great! So the Leafs should slightly improve as well! Slightly, would be the correct word in that sentence. In 2008 the Toronto Maple Leafs finished last in their division. In the 2010-2011 season, the Maple Leafs moderately improved to second last. Another coincidence, or is it…

Our very scientific chart...

Our very scientific chart...

In essence, the connection is clear. When the Maple Leafs begin to perform better and start winning, as so many hope for every year, the voter turnout will follow. This suits the country that lives, sleeps, breathes and bleeds hockey. It would only make sense for the country’s politics to follow the most valuable hockey team in the league. Conversely, if we really want the Maple Leafs to do better, more of us should vote! The elections before the decrease in the sixties occurred at the same time as when the Leafs won the Stanley Cup! Enough praying to whatever hockey God you may believe in, go vote and the Leafs luck will change!

Disclaimer:

Vote Savvy does not believe that there is any kind of connection between the Toronto Maple Leafs performance and the voter turnout of the Canadian population. This is purely an article for fun. Do not use these comparisons and connections as support for any argument.

Blog Post was written by Shane Liquornik, a political science student at the University of Guelph and an awesome Vote Savvy Volunteer.

Bagpipes, Long boards and Democracy

The date was March 26th, 2011. I was on the 3rd floor of the University Center of the University of Guelph gazing down at students moving about buzzed with stress from the pending exam season. I was stressed with exams as well but something more pressing had just occurred - the writ for the 2011 federal election was just dropped. Filled with both nervousness and excitement, I called fellow UofG student and my partner in crime, Gracen Johnson. I don’t remember saying much to Gracen besides “We have to do something”. The next day I moved into her room and 4 days later we had mobilized over 100 students together to run the world’s first Vote Mob.

Dressed enthusiastically in red and white, students followed our lead as we ran through our choreographed dance routine to Florence and the Machine. We had megaphones, videographers on long boards and a waving Canadian flag on a hockey stick. It was one of the happiest and most ridiculously awesome days of my university life, little did I know that this was just the beginning of something much bigger, not just for myself but for youth all across Canada.

Just as the first Vote Mob wrapped up we got more exciting news, PM Stephan Harper was going to be in Guelph for a Conservative Convention in 4 days and once again we mobilized. With the video of the 1st Vote Mob making it’s rounds on Guelph’s social media, the 2nd Vote Mob was drawing a lot of traction. While our jaws dropped when 100 people showed up at the first Vote Mob, our jaw hit the floor as we saw the number of people confirming hiking up pass 700. This time, instead of a music video we would throw a surprise party for Prime Minister Harper, to welcome him to Guelph and send the message “Surprise! We are voting!”

When we all gathered, I wouldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotion. Over 700 students had taken the time during exams to come to express their commitment to voting and advocate for the issues they cared about. People came with home made Canadian hats, and torches. Others brought along their bagpipes, trumpets and juggling balls. It was an inclusive party for all. The Vote Mob exuded the energy we wanted to see in politics - positivity, collaboration and a love for our country. I think everyone walked away feeling just a bit more Canadian.

After our vote mob, other schools took on our call to action. University of Victoria was the first to pick up the torch calling for some Respect from politicians. Then McMaster University hosted a vote mob and attended both the Conservative as well as the Liberal rallies that night.

Then the emails, phones calls and Facebook event invites came pouring in from across Canada. Even though it was the middle of exam period, students wanted to stage vote mobs and they wanted to vote. In total over 45 vote mobs took place across Canada in that month from Whitehorse to St. John's

What these vote mobs had in common was much more than just excited youth and signs. They all had young people who wanted to be heard, who wanted to be made to feel that they too are part of Canada. The issues that they paint on their signed are not stereotypical concerns about marijuana but issues that all Canadians are concerned about – health care, economy, climate change and aboriginal rights.

The vote mobs were not just a declaration that some young people will be voting, but a plea for our issues and more importantly our lives to matter to politics.

My 21-year-old cousin told me recently that the first time she voted was significant to her because she felt that she mattered. When she got her voter card for the first time with her name on it, she felt that the government had finally recognized her. This feeling of empowerment is what young people across Canada should be feeling this election season.

As this election continues, we hope that politicians will hear our plea, address our issues and if they dare, vote mob with us.

Blog post by Yvonne Su, co-founder of vote mobs @suyvonne

Facepaint. Mob. Vote.

When the writ was dropped for the 2011 federal election, students at the University of Guelph knew they needed to do something big, something different. Just 3 years before the country had experienced the lowest voter turnout in its history - 58.8% with the youth voter turnout (18-24) sitting at just above 37%. There was an unshakable feeling that this wasn’t right, so using the tools they had they mobilized. With only 38 days to encourage young people to get-out-the-vote, the students created the world’s first vote mob. The idea was simple - Face Paint, Mob, Vote.

What started as a humble call to action to reverse the declining youth voter turnout by students at the University of Guelph turned into a national phenomenon that saw over 45 vote mobs takes place in communities from Whitehorse to Cape Breton. The first vote mob kicked off with 100 students and 43 vote mobs later, we finished with over 1,500 in London with Rick Mercer. Listen to Rick's speech below.

What took place was just the beginning of something much bigger – the realization of young people’s ability to make their own political decisions. As a group of over 3 million voters, young Canadians between the age of 18-24 have the power to swing elections, we just didn’t know it. Now we do. Like any skill, political literacy needs to be taught and exercised and as as a generation, we've just started flexing but we're building up more and more each day.

The 2011 vote mobs showed us the power of our mobilization and the potential of our votes. In 2015, we will have the face paint, the mobs and the voting but we will also have the education as well as the decision-making tools to vote savvy.

Blog post by Yvonne Su, co-founder of vote mobs @suyvonne