It’s election time again in Nova Scotia, a time that is met with a chorus of groans and an overwhelmingly feeling of apathy. In the previous provincial election, just under 60% of eligible voters in Nova Scotia cast their ballot with only 20% of eligible electors between the ages of 18 and 24 voting. Change is never easy. The fundamental step to implementing change or action in society and our communities is by voting in elections.
Although the process and outcome can be frustrating it does matter, as this is how we have achieved great things such as education reform and improved health care policies. A strong voter turnout among students legitimizes student advocacy groups and it also mobilizes students to fight for issues that are important to them. I am a post-secondary education student who is going to vote in the Nova Scotia election, and I will do so because I believe that it is the important first step to making sure that issues that are important to me are discussed and addressed by government policy makers.
The typical response someone gives when they are asked about why they should care about or bother voting, is that if everyone said that then the outcome of the election could have been very different. This response is based on the assumption that there is a level of homogeneity within the block of eligible voters who choose not to vote and that if everyone voted than there would be a change in the result, which may not always be true. The answer of power in numbers does little to spark interest and faith in minority groups who will never numerically be able to challenge majority opinions. This approach also does little to inspire those who feel voiceless within the majority, as it seems to be impossible to change the status quo. So how do we overcome a system of governing that appears to only reproduce the current conditions of society?
In the 2017-2018 budget, the Nova Scotia government followed the recommendations and advocacy of organizations like StudentsNS and announced the investment of 3.4 million dollars towards Student Assistance investments for loan allowances and forgiveness. While post-secondary education students in Nova Scotia do not make up the majority of the population, they number over 55,000. When a large population of students vote, it gives credibility to organizations like StudentsNS that results in the inclusion of these organizations in future government policy decisions on issues that directly influence students. Although student issues may not be the primary concern of the provincial government, as organizations that focus on student issues become legitimized, then student issues and the student voice become more prominent and influential. Although it may appear that the student vote and voice is irrelevant, its power actually just manifests in a different way.
In the upcoming Nova Scotia provincial election, I will be voting because I believe that political engagement and participation are the key factors to holding government responsible and influencing the future policies that will shape my everyday life. The first step to making your voice heard, is to engage with the systems and processes that are in place whether you agree with them or not. Everyone has an issue they care about that is in some way influenced by the structures and systems of government, which are decided in elections. For me, I believe that the issues I care about such as student mental health require advocacy at the individual, community, and government level. I will be voting on May 30, 2017 and I hope that all eligible post-secondary student voters will as well so that we can show Nova Scotia just how loud and important the student voice and vote truly is!
For more information on how and where to vote check out:
Don’t forget to show the volume of the student voice by pledging to vote at: