5 Young Canadians Working To Change How We Vote

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Election reform is usually seen as something best left to politicians to figure out. But there are young people across Canada who are inspired to change the way we vote.

Jesse Hitchcock, for example, is bringing young voters together in P.E.I. — when she's not busy with her three other occupations.

She's just one of her generation who are frustrated with how the current voting system doesn't necessarily reflect the young and diverse views across the country.

From Ontario's Samantha Snetsinger, who feels the numbers just don't add up, to Dario Garousian of Vancouver, who feels a duty to be politically active, these Canadians are passionate in seeing a change in how Canada votes.

  • Jesse Hitchcock, Charlottetown

    Age: 26

    Occupation: Masters student, environmental consultant, and works part-time at a craft brewery

    How she’s involved: Founder of Young Voters of PEI, which spreads awareness about voting reform.

    What got her interested: She realized young people were becoming more disengaged, especially as they grew older.

    “I completed my undergrad and moved to P.E.I. for grad school and realized that there was a major void in how people in their early-late 20s engage with their communities and with politics…. We didn't have this university umbrella to unify us as "youth" and give us a way to engage with the issues.”

    Her preferred voting system: Some type of proportional system with regional representatives

    Why she wants change: Growing up in Alberta, she saw how one party didn’t quite reflect the views of her community.

    “Being Albertan doesn't inherently equate with being a Conservative… Majoritarian systems can be effective for two party systems, but I think that Canadian values are less binary.”

  • Farnaz Behrooz, Ottawa

    Age: 28

    Occupation: Civil servant

    How she’s involved: Volunteer outreach and communications with Ottawa123, which advocates for a ranked ballot system

    What got her interested: She feels it’s important to be active in her community in order to create change.

    “Politicians still need more than a retweet or a 'like' to be convinced of changing something.”

    Her preferred voting system: Ranked ballots in Ottawa and some type of propositional representation at the federal level

    Why she wants change: While first-past-the-post system might have worked for Canada in the past, she believes that times have changed.

    “While we have a larger and more diverse population participating in elections than ever before, we follow an old system like first-past-the-post that encourages two-way races. This system often runs the risk of "vote splitting," and discourages some people from participating altogether because the system is unfair.”
  • Morgan Baskin, Toronto

    Age: 21

    Occupation: Undergraduate student

    Involved with: Volunteer summer student for Leadnow

    What got her interested: Election reform is a way to combine many of the causes she’s interested in, such as Aboriginal rights and women’s rights.

    “Electoral reform is a way to have a more diverse parliament and more diverse groups of people making decisions, which will allow us to move all of these causes at once.”

    Her preferred voting system: Proportional representation

    Why she wants change: Reform could help youth feel like they have more of a political voice.

    “One of the constant issues you run into is running to young people feeling unheard, like they are working with a system that's completely broken so not really engaging with it.”
  • Samantha Snetsinger, Whitby, Ont.

    Age: 22

    Occupation: Masters student and personal support worker

    How she’s involved: Volunteer with 123Whitby, which advocates for a local ranked ballot system

    What got her interested: Samantha was first invited to join the group by a friend and realized how important the cause was to her.

    “I want to see our voting system changed but I hope to see more individuals, including younger people like myself, become involved in the political process. Maybe by getting involved myself, I can encourage people both directly and indirectly to do the same.”

    Her preferred voting system: Proportional representation with ranked ballots

    Why she wants change: The numbers just don’t add up.

    “How is it that the winner of a municipal by-election with eight candidates need only garner 13 per cent of the votes? How is it that Harper won the federal elections multiple times when the majority of Canadians did not vote for him? These situations plainly show how our voting system is not representative of our population and should be fixed.”

  • Dario Garousian, Vancouver
    YouTube

    Age: 20

    Occupation: Undergraduate student

    Involved with: Volunteer with Leadnow’s campaign promoting election reform

    What got him interested: His drive to create political change is inspired by the persecution his family faced in Iran before immigrating to Canada.

    “Because of the revolution it was hard to have your own political views. My great-grandfather was put in prison because they thought he was part of the the communist party… But being born here in Canada, I felt this duty to get involved in politics.”

    His preferred voting system: Hybrid mixed-member proportional or single vote transferable, as long as there is local representation

    Why he wants change: He feels like reforming the voting system to something more proportional would make politicians more open to working together instead of competing.

    “Some of the best ideas and things that make us fundamentally Canadians come from collaboration.”

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