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Students' union urges Nanaimo youth to vote

The provincial election is six months away, but the Vancouver Island University Students’ Union kicked off a youth voting campaign Wednesday.

Youth voter turnout during provincial elections is traditionally lower than other age demographics, which is why the union is participating in Rock the Vote B.C., a provincewide initiative of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students.

“The goal is to get students and young people to the ballot box,” said Patrick Barbosa, students’ union organizer. “It’s never too early to start talking about voting and the issues.”

He said issues important to young people are lower priorities for government because politicians focus platforms on issues that will get them re-elected and since young people aren’t voting in substantial numbers, the attention is on those who do vote.

The declining funding for post-secondary education is one example of how youth are not a priority for politicians, said Barbosa.

“If you look at the patterns around funding for post-secondary education … we believe that getting young people to the voting stations will put a lot of pressure on politicians to reverse that strategy,” he said.

The union plans to set up tables in different locations on campus to register people to vote.

“We have voter registration forms, we’re setting up tables,” said Barbosa. “Our goal is to register a substantial number of students. There’s something to be said about receiving your voter’s card, knowing where your polling station is. If we get an additional 1,000 students voting, we would call that a victory for sure. We’re going to work for more than that.”

The union plans to organize a big rock concert event in the spring to bring further awareness to the issue. To view a video on voting produced by and starring VIU students, please go to www.facebook.com/VIUSU.

For more information about Rock the Vote, please go to www.rockthevotebc.ca.

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