We won’t know the final tally for youth turnout for Tuesday’s provincial election until votes are in, but universities in Metro Vancouver are hoping to see a bump, holding their own campaigns to get students to the polls.
The move comes after a dismal turnout by voters younger than 35 in the 2013 provincial election, with just 42 per cent showing up to vote.
By contrast, 61 per cent of voters 35 and up cast a vote that year.
But for some on campus, there’s hope in the wake of the 2015 federal election that saw youth turnout surge between 12 and 20 per cent among younger age brackets.
“This year’s campaign was titled ‘Champion the Vote,”‘ says Ava Nasiri, the UBC Alma Mater student society’s outgoing president.
Nasiri says the student union kicked off its campaign more than a month before voting day on April 7.
“We had posters, coffee sleeves at our coffee shop in our building. As well as online promotions and social media, we gave out stickers, packages letting people know when to vote. The bigger peak of the social media campaign was closer to the middle of April,” she says.
READ MORE: Decision BC: Will the youth show up to vote?
Nasiri says among the material was information on deadlines to register, when early voting was happening, and reminding students of the all-important May 9 voting day.
The school also set up early voting booths.
Meanwhile, over at SFU, Student Society Vice President of External Relations Prab Bassi says the school ran a more laid back campaign
“We just created Facebook posts and promoted the elections on our Twitter handle,” she says.
She adds advance voting booths were set up at SFU Burnaby.
“I’ve heard the turnout was pretty decent, especially for the residents that we have on campus, they found the advice polling stations to be very convenient for them.”
The question of whether or not young people do show up to vote could be crucial to the election’s outcome.
In 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was propelled to power partly on the surge in youth voting.
Here in B.C., recent polls show the BC NDP to be preferred by voters under 34 by a nine-point margin, while the BC Liberals have a six-point advantage among those over 55.
With files from Emily Lazatin