As Manitoba’s provincial election dawns, efforts to capture the attention of younger voters are starting to roll out.
This week, Elections Manitoba has taken to targeting first-time voters with a generationally coded phrase that most youth and internet-savvy people will know how to crack: “Some choices mean more than your fit check. Vote.”
Fit check, according to StayHipp.com, means “check out my outfit.”
Michael Ambrose, director of Communications and Public Information for Elections Manitoba, said he hopes the message will encourage younger voters to cast their ballot.
“Research shows that nonvoters tend to be younger voters and that younger people vote in smaller numbers,” he said. “So what we were trying to do was really get the attention of younger voters with this campaign.“
Ambrose said the same process that’s applied to deciding what to wear, should also be applied to voting.
“You weigh your options, you do some research, maybe you talk to your friends and family, and then you make a plan,” he said.
A survey conducted after the previous Manitoban election showed only 11 per cent of respondents who voted were between the ages of 18 and 24.
Curtis Brown, principal at Probe Research, says this year might see an increase.
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“Turnout tends to be higher in either a competitive election or a potential change election. We did see an increase in turnout in 2016 when the progressive conservatives were first elected,” he said.
However, Brown said he doesn’t expect there to be a huge bump in people showing up at the polls.
“The days of, say, 70, 75, 80 per cent turnout–which you would have seen in the fifties and sixties– Those are those are long gone. But, you know, we might see something closer to 60 per cent,” he said.
Brown said the instability and movement in the lives of younger people tend to play a role in them not voting.
“When people are younger, they tend to rent, they tend to move around more. They may not necessarily be on the voters list in their riding. The process of going to vote can sometimes [have] more steps involved,” he said.
The danger, Brown said, comes when younger people make a habit of not voting.
“That is something that is a bit of an issue and a bit of a concern. If people, when they’re younger, get in the habit of not voting and then they don’t do it for the rest of their life, I mean, then we’re going to see decreases in voter turnout and ultimately a weaker democracy,” he said.
Brown said in addition to forming non-voting habits, “there’s been a broad decline in civic participation, and voting is just kind of one symptom, or one element, of that.”
So far, young potential voters have had mixed reactions to the ad campaign, but the results won’t be clear until it has its own “fit check” after election day on Oct. 3.
— With files from Global News’ Katherine Dornian
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