A cross-country effort aims to encourage Muslim-Canadians to vote in the upcoming federal election.
The non-partisan organization Canadian-Muslim Vote is working to mobilize Muslim voters and encourage them to vote in advance polls over the Thanksgiving weekend and on election day.
The Toronto-based group sent more than 130 kits to volunteers at mosques across the country to help educate and inform prospective voters about the importance of voting.
“We truly do believe that if (Muslims) participate in democracy, we’re making Canada stronger, we’re making democracy stronger,” said Ali Manek, the group’s executive director. “That’s a big part of the philosophy that we have and why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
Fatema Abdalla, a first-time voter who works as a communication coordinator for the non-profit, said she hopes to convince as many fellow Muslims as she can to head to the ballot box.
“I vote because my vote matters, right?”
“I am a young Canadian and I believe that for issues such as the climate, for issues such as education, for the seniors — for everyone — I vote because it matters,” Abdalla said.
Low Muslim voter participation
Manek told Global News the Muslim population has historically had lower voter turnout rates than the general population.
“The Muslim community is made up of a variety of communities and those communities — and each one of them face barriers to democracy in a different way,” he said.
Manek cited fear of voting and fear of democracy in general stemming from their countries of origin. He said many also lack information and understanding on the importance of voting.
Focus on key ridings
To maximize its impact, Canadian-Muslim Vote is paying particular attention to 113 of Canada’s 338 ridings where the Muslim populations are believed to be large enough to directly influence the outcome.
“We’re really trying to focus on the areas where we think we have the potential to swing the results of the election,” Manek said.
Manek added their community survey suggests a higher-than-usual Muslim turnout for this election.
Advance polls close on Monday, a week before election day.