Mark Arike: Young voters important
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | June 7, 2018|
Despite the fact three of the local provincial candidates are students, it didn’t entice many young voters to turn up for the recent all-candidates meeting. Once again, the mean age (judging by a quick scan of the room) was about 65. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering seniors make up the majority of Haliburton County’s population. I could count—on one hand—those under 30.
Two high school students were there to ask candidates how they plan on supporting youth with mental health issues and students in debt. Kudos to them for making the trip to the Pinestone. But it’s a shame so few millennials were there.
Why is that? There are many possible reasons. The meeting was hosted by CARP and the local chamber. CARP obviously got the word out to their member base—the 50-plus demographic. But I didn’t see any posters in high traffic areas or social media posts to spread the word. The latter is a free tool that reaches the tech-savvy generation that’s always connected. This truly was a missed opportunity.
Transportation is a challenge for many residents. If you don’t have a car or can’t hitch a ride, you’re pretty much out of luck. Until the county has its own transit system, this will continue to be one of the biggest barriers.
Many people in their 20s and 30s have families to raise. Venturing out for a nearly two-and-a-half-hour meeting on a Monday evening is probably the last thing on their minds. Another hurdle is affordable child care. In fact, there is no licensed child care for infants 0-18 months old in the county. Then you have the millennials with side gigs. It isn’t uncommon for young professionals to earn more money freelancing than they do at their 9-5. When an opportunity for some extra cash comes along, it’s hard not to take it. And then, there are some who just don’t care, or believe their vote doesn’t matter.
Hopefully the turnout at the recent meeting isn’t indicative of what will happen on June 7. Based on polls, this will be a close race. On a positive note, the turnout of the youngest electors rose 10 per cent across Ontario last time around. In this riding, the total voter turnout was 56 per cent—higher than the provincial average. Young people can make all the difference, whether they know it or not. We need more of them to mark their ballots and make their concerns known. If you’re an elector who needs a ride, ask a friend or family member, or see if there are carpool opportunities on the Haliburton Rideshare website. It might just be the most important lift you ask for in 2018.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.