Sept. 4, 2019

Get Out the Vote campaign encourages students to make a pledge and vote

Graduate Students' Association: 'If students vote, they can help shape Canada’s future'
Pep rally
GSA stresses the importance of voting by encouraging students to sign a pledge to vote Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

The University of Calgary Graduate Students' Association (GSA) is launching a Get Out the Vote campaign, in collaboration with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) and 35 other student associations across the country, to encourage students to vote in the federal election. During this non-partisan campaign, the GSA and volunteers will be throwing events, and hosting an all-party debate to engage students on campus and help them understand that voting is their chance to help shape the future.

For many years, younger generations have been noticeably absent in elections. Many young people were either intimidated by the voting process, felt their vote didn’t make a difference, or faced barriers such as not having the right proof of address or identity at the polls. To combat this problem, CASA ran its first iteration of the Get Out the Vote campaign in 2015, and managed to get 42,000 students to pledge to vote. That same election, voter turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds increased by 18 per cent. It became clear that mobilization efforts, such as CASA’s, as well as political parties’ efforts to connect with young people, made a big impact.

Due to the success of CASA’s 2015 campaign, the GSA has decided to participate in 2019 and help the student body get to the polls this fall.

“Throughout the Get Out the Vote campaign, we will be asking students to pledge to vote either online or on a paper pledge form,” explains Adam Brown, chair of CASA and VP external at the University of Alberta Students’ Union. “Studies have shown that having a person promise to vote, especially to a peer, is an effective way of ensuring that they show up on voting day.”

Marcela Lopes, vice-president external, GSA, adds, “At the University of Calgary, the GSA will also be reminding graduate students when and where they can vote, as well as the importance of taking part in the democratic process by pledging to vote and going out to vote. Students will be engaged via various events on campus and through social media."

This year, voting should be easier for University of Calgary students. Because students have generally not yet settled in one place, they have traditionally faced difficulty proving their address and voting in elections. Fortunately, students will have the opportunity to vote right on campus a few weeks before election day. Also, students will be able to use a wide variety of documents to prove their address, including leases, residence letters, and more, making the process much simpler.

Lopes continues, “Democracy is important, and everyone has to participate for it to vote. There are over two million post-secondary students in Canada. If students vote, they can help shape Canada’s future. We want to engage students during this campaign to ensure they know that their voice matters, and their vote counts!”

Students who want to participate in the campaign can visit the Get Out the Vote website to pledge to vote, or visit the UCalgary Graduate Students' Association website to find out more on how they can get involved in on-campus campaign events.