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