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Rick Mercer says the youth vote can make a difference

Canadian television personality Rick Mercer is tackling the issue of low voter turnout rates among youths.

This article was taken of of the Yahoo News Blog, April 8, 2011. The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the makers and contributors of Young Canadians Vote.

By Andy RadiaCanada Politics – Mon, 4 Apr, 2011 3:28 PM EDT

Canadian television personality Rick Mercer is tackling the issue of low voter turnout rates among youths.

During last week’s Rick Mercer Report on CBC, the comedian ranted that politicians ignore youth issues, such as tuition hikes, because they don’t believe young people will vote anyway.

“There are more than three million young eligible voters in this country and as far as any of the political parties are concerned, you might as well all be dead. In fact in some elections, in Quebec for example, the dead have a higher voter turnout,” he quipped.

“If you’re between the age of 18 and 25 and you want to scare the hell out of the people who run this country, this time around do the unexpected. Take 20 minutes out of your day and do what young people all around the world are dying to do.”

During the 2008 federal election, voter turnout of people between the ages of 18 and 24 was a paltry 37 per cent, compared to the national turnout rate of 57 per cent.

This means approximately 1.8 million youth who could have voted didn’t.  (The Conservatives beat the Liberals by 1.56 million votes in the overall popular vote)

A recent Globe and Mail article suggests because this election falls in the middle of final exams, youth voter turnout may actually be lower this election.

” . . . a looming exam worth 40 per cent of one’s mark takes top of mind,” says a student quoted in the article.

Nevertheless, many youths have taken on this cause. Several videos have been posted on YouTube in response to Mercer’s challenge.  University of Guelph student Yvonne Su filmed a “vote mob” and posted it online to draw awareness about the issue.