Give a f%$# and vote

GABE SENECAL 

Vote

Public participation in Canada, such as voting in elections, has plummeted in recent years and young people are especially likely to be disengaged. Current voter turnout speaks toward the  general sense of indifference among today’s youth.

The last five federal elections have had the lowest voter turnouts since Confederation. Yes, the voters of today are embarrassingly the most apathetic in 150 years of Canadian history.

Voter turnout has always varied election to election but in recent decades has fallen significantly. Since the year 2000, electoral voter turnout has been more than 15 per cent lower than it was in the 1950s and 60s. The 2011 election saw a slight increase from the 2008 turnout, but still remained at a dismal 61 per cent.

For federal elections, 61 per cent is low. But at other levels of government far lower turnouts have been seen.

In the 2012 Saskatoon Municipal Election, only 36 per cent of registered voters chose to cast their vote.

Aside from indicating apathy, low electoral turnout also allows special interest groups or certain demographics to have their views over-represented in the political system. An obvious example is income, where wealthy households are far more likely to vote.

The Willows, one of Saskatoon’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, had the city’s highest electoral turnout at 67 per cent in the 2012 Saskatoon city election. The lowest turnout was nine per cent at the Pleasant Hill polling station, where the average household income is less than a fifth of the average household income from the Willows according to statistics from the City of Saskatoon. The obvious differences in the electoral power of these two neighbourhoods is bad news for a democracy meant to give all citizens an equal say.

Income is only one of many factors that correlate with uneven participation in elections. The 2011 federal election saw people under 24 years of age vote at a rate 20 per cent less than the national average. Youth participation in elections, like turnout rates proportional to income levels, is a problem that needs to be solved for elections to be considered truly representational of a society’s desires.

It should be important to a community for all members to have equal say in chosen representatives. Obviously if certain demographics are lagging behind, the best way to increase turnout would be to encourage them to vote. Unfortunately, a recent piece of federal legislation claiming to address low voter turnout does exactly the opposite.

The Fair Elections Act, a recently proposed  piece of federal legislation restructuring how elections work and how Elections Canada runs, has provided much material for political columnists across the country. One of the many changes it includes would make it a great deal more difficult for Elections Canada to promote voting to demographics that have low electoral participation, including students and young people.

The Fair Elections Act controversially proposes that voters cannot vouch for each other to prove that they live in an electoral district, making it even more difficult for students to vote in elections than it already is.

At a time when civic engagement is at an all time low, it is a rather backwards piece of legislation that would make it harder to vote instead of easier.

When young people don’t even bother to vote in elections, political parties and candidates have little incentive to campaign to them or create policies benefitting the young, further discouraging youth from participating in our political system in a vicious cycle.

The federal and provincial elections in 2015 will give many University of Saskatchewan students the opportunity to vote for the first time, either because they didn’t vote in 2011 or because they were too young to cast a ballot. Young people should ensure their voices are being heard — both to influence the elections and to tell politicians that the youth should not be neglected in politics.

Now I realize that my vote has — from a statistical standpoint — little effect on the turnout or the result. But I still vote in elections because I believe it’s better to be part of the solution than the problem. Voting isn’t usually an arduous process, no matter what the level, so I see no reason not to participate.

Of course there are many ways to participate in your community aside from voting. Group organizations, volunteer groups and even campus clubs all positively benefit a community in one way or another. Aside from the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from volunteering or the fun you may have at a student organization’s beer night, getting involved can pay dividends far into your future.

Students at the U of S have the ability to cast their ballot and have their voice heard this very month. The U of S Students’ Union election for Executives, Members of Student Council, and for University Senate runs from 9 a.m. on Mar. 26 to 4 p.m. Mar. 27. Voting is done online through PAWS and takes less than 30 seconds, so there is no excuse to not vote.

The 2013 USSU election saw only 23 per cent of undergraduates vote. Thankfully voter turnout is on the rise in USSU elections, from 16 per cent in 2012 and eight per cent in 2011. It should not be nearly that low considering the effort it takes to cast a ballot.

So give a fuck about your country, your community and students union: vote.


Graphic: Cody Schumacher/Graphics Editor

  • Randy Anderson

    I ain’t got time for dat shit (ussu votes) like honestly who cares? as far as I’m concerned people running for these positions don’t give two shits about policy they’re advertising and just running for council to pad there self serving resumes

    • GrabUrShoes

      I second that, but I sincerely hope you don’t have that same attitude towards the federal elections. Canadian youth need to start giving two shits.

  • John

    This story lost all credibility from the moment i read the title. You’re talking about a serious issue, if you’re going to write a full article about it at least have some class

  • Tim John Hlady

    “Give A Fuck and Vote”??? Someone needs to seriously re-think how untouchable they are if the feel that publishing this type of material is acceptable. Yes people need to vote but maybe the reason that they don’t is because some guy who is to busy wearing his ass like a hat is sitting here berating them about what terrible people they are. No wonder everyone sees the sheaf as a joke.

    • 2legit2quit

      gee, if this upsets you so much maybe you should stay out of the ‘opinions’ section. and perhaps off of the internet altogether.

    • Sick of the Sheaf

      2Legit, most of us never waste our time on the Sheaf, it just shows up on the front page of PAWS. You’re not legit. You should quit.

  • d

    This title is terrible. How are we supposed to take the Sheaf seriously? No respectable newspaper would have ‘fuck’ in the title of an article.

    • Sick of the Sheaf

      Bunch of hacks. Damn millennials.

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t bother reading the article. “Give a Fuck and Vote” appeared on my Paws newsfeed.
    Please show more tact and maturity in naming your articles.
    Thanks.

    • Sick of the Sheaf

      Preach

  • What would YOU have titled it?

    its just impossible to please people. I know the sheaf is a newspaper, but honestly I am surprised at all the negative comments about the title. As you will see in any media, shock factor is a device to get people’s attention. You are not proving anything to anybody by going through the trouble to comment on the title and point out you refuse to read the article because cuss words are so personally offensive or unprofessional. The article has good points, especially about how voter apathy leads to a small subset of the population being overrepresented. As students, most of us are not going to be the same income level as the largest voting percentage in the willows. Those of you who complain, Do you understand that this means the governing power will be decided by people with more money than you? I hope you do because I get sick of hearing people complain of how this and that is inconsiderate of students and then they say they didn’t vote in the last election. You are not using your voice. Ask yourself, Would you have clicked the link if it was titled, “youth voter apathy in Saskatchewan leads to disproportional representation of voters in high income brackets”? If so, great, I would have. But I still understand the passionate title. Pretty sure you hear the f word many other places. The sheaf isn’t trying to be The Times, They just want you to read the article.

    • Sick of the Sheaf

      The title was actually counter intuitive as I’m sure many people were turned off. Honestly if I could figure out how to get the Sheaf off of my PAWS feed I would. Bunch of hacks.
      edit: figured it out. No more Sheaf for this guy. Good riddance to this rubbish.

    • 00

      If you click the gear on the far right of the messages feed, a menu will drop down that lets you can select the kinds of stuff you see.

    • Anonymous

      “As you will see in any media, shock factor is a device to get people’s attention.”

      It got me to click the link but it didn’t entice me to read the article. I literally came here to see if anyone else disagreed with the choice of title and I’m glad I’m not alone. Professionalism isn’t much to ask for.

      I’m not an expert title creator so I don’t have any suggestions for this one in particular, but news articles are able catch attention every single day without resorting to cuss words.

    • D J

      Totally agree. I clicked the lick because I thought to myself, “my God, am I that out of touch with today’s standards?” I’m only 36 but have three degrees, one from the U of S, and was shocked that being offended by this title would mean I was so out of date already. Glad to see pretty much everyone out there still thinks this is wrong.

    • DJH

      What would YOU have title it? is right. It’s an opinion article. I can only assume that many of the critics commenting here are not familiar with print media!

      For god’s sake, the title is tongue in cheek. Perhaps poking fun at the attitude of many students. If it truly offends you, maybe it’s time to start questioning your sensibilities and join us in the 21st century.

      I’ve heard great Profs who are much older than I use the F word in their lectures, often to great effect, so lighten up.

    • Tim John Hlady

      I probably wouldn’t have read it if it was titled as you so suggested but I also wouldn’t have felt embarrassed about going to a university that allows incoherent babble to be portrayed as the public opinion. This article puts a bad taste in my mouth about USSU elections more than anything. It doesn’t encourage anyone to vote by being berated.

  • Sick of the Sheaf

    You’re so edgy with your title.

  • Seth

    wow. This is the first time in my life that I have come across such an article which uses such language. Im not picking one of those news papers ever again.

  • slh

    excellent article. poor title. that aside I agree with what the author is saying. I have voted in every election at all three level of government in the three years I have been eligible to vote… except the USSU. for students in PA like me they are less than useless. I have tried on several occasions to bring up issues to a rep and I am always ignored. nevertheless get your butts out to our other elections and exercise that right to vote, people died for our right to participate in democracy.

  • D J

    Sadly, although the article may have some good points, I never got to the body, as I was so put off by the title. Journalists have a responsibility to bring light to important issues, but there are basic standards of decency that need to be adhered to whilst doing this. Bringing light to an important fact and gratuitous profanity are not mutually inclusive requirements. I believe that this is what separates a talented journalist from a bush-league college news rag: creativity and imagination. Using profanity is just lazy. What’s next? Using “Hey F*ggot!” to make people aware of LGBT issues? “Listen up N*ggers and B*tches” to make people aware of minority issues? A lazy bush-league excuse for “journalism”.

  • I am ashamed.

    I can hardly believe this title was given the “ok” to go online. Are you kidding me? Is this guy so low on coping skills to deal with his frustration with youth voting that he has to resort to using the F bomb? Where the heck was the editor? I would expect someone with aspirations of being a wordsmith to have a bit more ingenuity and creativity. And I reiterate the sentiment of so many others when I say, “This is why the Sheaf is a joke.” Please – stop making me feel ashamed of my university newspaper. Please, for the love of God. It’s unprofessional. I thought uni was supposed to help people mature, not give them opportunities to wallow in their ignorance. You’ve taken a very serious issue and tarnished it with your immaturity.

  • Logan Fele-Slaferek

    I love how they keep telling us to vote, vote for whom might I ask? I see voting for politicians as picking my poison: who do I want to royally screw me over? Asshole A or asshole B? Every single politician I know of is corrupt, power-hungry and money-grubbing in the extreme with not a care towards the every day citizen unless they’re not paying all their tax dues. I won’t vote, because there is no one good to vote FOR. I wouldn’t trust these politicians as far as I could throw them, -good day!

    • D

      Your argument is pathetic. There is always someone better to vote for, even if everyone to vote for is extremely bad. You can avoid a horrible situation for a bad situation by voting (If that’s how you view the situation).

    • Logan Fele-Slaferek

      D, how could you misunderstand my comment so obnoxiously? I specifically stated that I think ALL of the candidates for election are purely trash. It’s the difference between choosing burning to death or drowning to death, in both cases you die, in both cases it is horrible. That is what I compare today’s politics to, there is no “better” option, they are all corrupt, power-hungry and money-grubbing monsters. There is no way that voting one venomous politician in parliament over another will in any way “avoid a horrible situation” as you so put it. Please, re-read my comment and assess your own sanity, for God’s sake.

    • Jes

      Alright. Well if you won’t make a decision, someone else will make it for you. As long as you’re OK with that..

    • Logan Fele-Slaferek

      Unfortunately, that is the case. It doesn’t matter who I pick, I lose.

    • MC

      If you think all politicians are equally bad you need to educate yourself. The point of view that all politicians are evil is trash. Do you think Tommy Douglas and Maurice Vellacout are indifferent? Unless you disagree with the electoral system of representation, you have no reason not to vote. But saying “they’re all the same” is far from reality.

    • blornam

      There should be a “nobody” option. If enough people vote against all the candidates we have, let’s bring in some new ones. Though in that case we’d probably never elect anybody

    • sigh

      We do it is called spoiling your ballot. If more people would educate themselves on how the political system works maybe we would actually have a better government.

    • Elle

      Yeah, really. I remember learning in Grade 5 what to do if I didn’t like any of the candidates lol

  • a representing student.

    I’ll never take The Sheaf seriously again after seeing that title. Sure, it caught my attention. Negative attention. I refuse to read the article, seems like a waste of my time if the writer didn’t have the creativity to create a decent title that could just as well catch my attention like this profane one did. You shouldn’t be in university if you don’t understand professionalism, I can’t believe they let you write our university paper. You should stop writing.

  • Britt

    The article was good and brought up legitimate points. However, the title is a tad unprofessional. I don’t know how the community is supposed to take us seriously when this happens.

  • Todd

    The Sheaf Fucking Blows – would that be an acceptable title for my upcoming opinion piece for this rag? Let me know, I’m almost done the rough draft

  • K

    I think that topics like voter apathy and participating in democracy are much more worthy of discussion than the title of this article. The people commenting on the title are missing the point here. The Sheaf touches on many relevant and important issues and sometimes employs shock factor to get the attention of apathetic youth. All the bashing is unwarranted. PLEASE START YOUR OWN STUDENT NEWSPAPER IF YOU’RE UNHAPPY WITH THE SHEAF.

  • B

    Are all University students so sensitive to an article title? No wonder we can’t have legit debate, you are all afraid of an article title that has a swear word in it! OH NO call the call the cops!

    This is why I don’t vote. An attempt to discuss a serious issue with an article, and these babies get offended by the title. What a soft generation.

  • J

    Student elections are awful. Rarely do people know anything about the person running or what they represent or plan on doing if voted in, and even if people did want to educate on this they don’t have time because the elections take place at the busiest time of the year when everyone is finishing end of the year projects and prepping for finals. I voted on one position last year because my friend was running but abstained from the rest because I had no clue who these people were that were running and didn’t have the time to educate myself on them.

  • SKF

    “We live in a culture where people are more offended by swear words and middle fingers than they are by famine, warfare, and the destruction of our environment…” Pick and choose your battles people, there are far more important issues out there! FYI the title caught my attention and yes I did read the article and enjoyed it!

  • Ricky

    I happen to think the word fuck is great in certain situations, either for comic relief or for added emphasis on something. You ever listen to how people talk? Most people swear all the fucking time! It’s a word people, it’s only offensive if you make it so. Go watch some Trailer Park Boys for the most creative and effective uses of curse words ever. Seriously, read the article because it has some good points and stop complaining about a few characters arranged in a specific manner. Fuck.

  • conservative

    The day that Harper looks like he might lose is the day I’ll vote for him otherwise, if my boy keeps winning I’m not voting! Bleed blue!

  • Adam

    The title is genius. it was a bold move and I’m sure the person who wrote the article was passionate. If you ask me passion is the theme of the article, because no one gives enough of a fuck to be passionate about any candidate or take a stance. The fact that the writer is taking the time to write an article that will encourage those out there to vote shows passion. If he changed the title to something more ‘sensible’ and ‘respectable’ it wouldn’t have had that same passion. True Fact: this year is the first time i voted in the USSU elections and it was because of this article. Although i have to admit i still didn’t give a fuck.

  • Grow a pair people

    I wonder how many of you so “knowledgable and mature” people are going to vote for Justin Trudeau in the next federal election. The guy used the f word in a national speech!!! How can anyone take him seriously to run a country when he uses such childish language!!

    • Guest

      Oh, fuddle duddle.