By Geneviève April
Getting citizens to the polls to vote has increasingly posed a challenge, especially in municipal elections. It’s no secret that the youngest portion of the population is the hardest to get involved in exercising their democratic franchise.
Forum Jeunesse Laval (FJL) is tackling that challenge headlong. It has launched a number of initiatives to get Laval’s youth vote out.
They’ve settled on two-part strategy to encourage young Laval citizens to participate. Imagination for People (Électeurs en herbe), a nationwide program aimed at those 18 and under, promotes awareness of how important it is to vote, once you reach the age of majority. Together with school boards, Imagination for People conducts workshops to encourage young people to tune in, get informed and do their civic duty.
“Citizens have neglected municipal politics,” lamented FJL president Ivonne Carvajal. “In 2009, only 35.7 percent of eligible Laval voters cast their ballot vote. Throughout Quebec, youth participation in municipal elections ranges from 20 to 30 percent. But as the closest level of government to the population, it’s essential to engage young people in municipal politics,”
FJL held an information session in March for eligible youth voters under the rubric “Make room for Laval’s next generation. It brought together speakers from across the political spectrum for the sole objective of encouraging youth to enter the political arena.
FJL has also deployed social media to convey reams of pertinent information, such as key dates, debates and services available during the election campaign. It also arranged for tonight’s debate among some of the mayoral candidates to be webcast live at the Montmorency College concourse as a means of reaching out to young voters.
It also circulated a questionnaire among all Laval mayoral candidates, Oct. 4, inviting them to explain how they intend to involve youth in the live of the city.
Established in 2000, FJL’s objective is to encourage Laval’s under-35 set to become more involved in their community and the regions decision-making process. The province’s five-year youth strategy, launched in 2009, provided funding for FJL through the province’s youth office, and the organization is supported in a non-partisan fashion by the region’s elected representatives.
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