Why We Exist
In his early 20s, Taylor Gunn set out to develop a program that would teach kids about voting, foster their connection to the community, and eventually reverse the decline of voter turnout.
With a very limited amount of resources and support from education stakeholders, Taylor recruited a small team to build a student engagement model that would secure the participation of hundreds of thousands of students in the first-ever province-wide parallel election program in Canada. On October 2nd 2003, more than 335,000 students took part in the inaugural Student Vote program during the Ontario provincial election.
Since then, Student Vote has been brought to the federal level, and to other provincial and municipal jurisdictions across the country. By building extensive partnerships with election offices, school boards, media outlets, community and financial support, Taylor and the CIVIX team are ensuring that our democracy is brought to life in the classrooms and homes of young students across Canada.
The participation of citizens in the electoral process is a central component of a healthy democracy, yet a marked decline in voter turnout has plagued Canada over the last two decades. Electoral participation reached an all-time low of 59 per cent in the 2008 federal election, and voter turnout in most provinces is hovering at 50 per cent.
More concerning is the fact that low voter turnout is disproportionately concentrated among young Canadians. In the 2011 federal election, only 39 per cent of voters were aged 18 to 24, compared to 70 percent of voters aged 55 and older.
Research suggests that the habits of voting and non-voting persist over time. If Canadian youth don’t vote now, they likely won’t become voters later in life. This has serious implications for the future of our democracy.
CIVIX exists to give young Canadians a solid base of interest, knowledge and experience to inspire their citizenship. Without it, they will continue to stay away from political participation, public policy and voting.
With it, they will guarantee a healthy and robust democracy for Canada.