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Youth voter turnout spiked 18% in last federal election

Young people turned out in droves to vote last October.
Young people turned out in droves to vote last October.

The number of young Canadians who voted in October increased by an astounding 18 per cent in the last federal election, new data from Elections Canada shows.

The agency released new official figures from the 2015 federal election Wednesday. Overall, voter turnout was a comparatively healthy 68.3 per cent, but it was Canadian voters aged 18 to 24 who showed the most startling increase in numbers.

“The participation of voters aged 18 to 24 increased by 18.3 percentage points to 57.1 per cent (from 38.8 per cent in 2011),” Elections Canada noted.

“This is the largest increase for this age group since Elections Canada began reporting demographic data on turnout in 2004.”

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Mobilizing the Youth Vote

Voters who were slightly older also turned out in higher numbers at the end of a long often divisive election campaign that lasted most of the summer and early fall. Participation of voters aged 25 to 34 surged by 12.3 percentage points to 57.4 per cent, up from 45 per cent in 2011.

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Apathy is Boring, a non-partisan organization that promotes youth engagement in the democratic process, called the numbers “incredible.”

Meanwhile, those aged 65 to 74 continued to have the highest participation rate of all age groups, with close to 80 per cent casting a ballot.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau openly courted young voters before and during the race using targeted ad campaigns and media interviews to reach out to them on issues such as marijuana legalization, employment, post-secondary education, the environment and LGBTQ rights.

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The NDP also made efforts to connect with the same voters on similar issues, and all major parties put additional resources into social media this time around.

One poll conducted in the wake of the Oct. 19 vote suggested that nearly half of young people had voted Liberal, compared with 25 per cent for the NDP and 20 per cent for the Conservatives.

Elections Canada may also have helped boost turnout in the youngest cohort of voters, opening advance polling stations on university campuses and in community centres across the country. More than 70,000 people, mostly youth, registered and voted at those stations.

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READ MORE: To boost youth vote, Elections Canada brings ballots to students

On-reserve turnout also up

The turnout on Aboriginal reserves across Canada also increased for last fall’s election, Elections Canada revealed Wednesday.

Turnout for registered electors living on reserves was 61.5 per cent, an increase of 14 percentage points over 2011 and almost 20 per cent higher than in 2008.

A look at youth participation in the last election, by the numbers:

1,843,131: Number of young voters eligible to vote for the first time.

1,074,217: Number of those voters who cast ballots.

58.3: Percentage of first-time voters who voted.

57.1: Percentage of young people age 18-24 who voted.

68.3: Official overall turnout rate.

78.8: Percentage turnout among voters age 65 to 74.

68: Percentage of young people who looked online for political information.

60: Percentage of older voters who looked online for political information.

40: Percentage of youth who shared political information on social media.

29: Percentage of older adults who used social media to share political information.

With files from the Canadian Press

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