4580 = The median margin of victory in ridings with major campuses in the 2011 elections (the majority of ridings had margins of victory in the 4000s).
19,786 = The average number of estimated eligible student voters in each individual riding. That means that less than a quarter of the student vote often could totally reshape the margin of victory for every party.
66 = The number of electoral districts in Ontario in which, if student voters showed up to the polls, students could have changed the margin of victory completely. For the record, that is over half of the total ridings in Ontario.
What does all this mean?
Students alone could be the deciding factors in most of the ridings in Ontario. That means that when you vote, you send a message. Because students like you are an untapped voter group, every time you vote you let everyone know that youth should be taken seriously.
Student votes are powerful. But what if I don’t care about politics anyway?
Many students feel like we are detached from politics in general. It’s understandable – when students don’t vote, we don’t get engaged by politicians and so it’s hard for us to get excited about voting. However, consider the following things that affect many students in Ontario:
- OSAP & student aid
- The quality, accessibility & safety of the buildings you study in
- The number of students per professor
- Class sizes
- Work during and after your degree
- Support for mental health in universities
Do you care about any of these things? Each of these is directly affected by which party comes to power, and what they decide to do once they take office.
Okay, I definitely care about that stuff, but I don’t know enough about each party to make an educated vote.
First of all, students are a unique and powerful demographic in that the more we vote, the more good things will happen for us on the political landscape. Just by voting, we increase the pressure on parties to make students’ needs a priority. The damage done by not voting far outweighs any worries you may have about voting for the ‘wrong’ party. However, getting educated is not as difficult as you may think.
Info on all things elections can be found at www.wemakevotingeasy.ca. Links to all the individual parties’ platforms are here at http://itsyourvote.ca, but I’ll provide a quick pro and a con for each of the major parties’ platforms, from a non-partisan, undergraduate student perspective. There is a lot more than what I’m listing here, and these choices don’t indicate importance:
Progressive Conservative Party:
Pro: Increased focus on teaching quality and teaching loads.
Con: Remove the 30% off Ontario tuition grant without reallocating the money into student aid
Ontario Liberal Party:
Pro: A total of $750 million dollars of additional funding to Universities for deferred maintenance and research
Con: No commitments yet to finding solutions for high teaching loads
New Democratic Party :
Pro: Freeze tuition at 2014 levels for four years
Con: no additional funding to support universities in first year of tuition freeze. This means already indebted universities will shoulder most of the cost.
Ontario Green Party:
Pro: Create a $300 million dollar Social Innovation Fund
Con: There’s not much else on the platform regarding post-secondary education.
Alright, so it’s not too hard to learn about the parties. But I don’t know where or how to vote. I’m not registered or anything!
Voting itself is actually really quick and simpler than you think! No registration is necessary. You also vote in advance, from June 1-5th. All you need to walk up to vote is to:
- Prove you are who you say you are (with photo ID)
- Prove that you live where you say you live (with a lease; a phone, utility or internet bill; a bank, credit card or insurance statement, a personalized cheque, A T4, or more!)
So, major takeaways: If students vote, we could dominate provincial elections. Voting is easy, and so is getting educated about how and where to vote. If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.
This entry was written by Colin Zarzour, AMS Academic Affairs Commissioner
Info gathered by:
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. Toronto, ON. 04/06/2014
“Past Elections Results”, Elections Ontario, http://www.elections.on.ca/en-ca/tools/pastresults.htm, accessed 04/06/2014
Party platform websites:
http://www.ontarioliberal.ca/ (Ontario Liberal Party)
http://www.ontariopc.com/ (Progressive Conservative Party)
http://ontariondp.com/ (New Democratic Party)
http://www.gpo.ca/ (Green Party of Ontario)
The AMS and OUSA are non-partisan, not for profit organizations
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