Maybe we need to rethink how we educate young people to vote

Dear editor,

Running in the Courtenay civic election has been a great experience for me.

Dear editor,

Running in the Courtenay civic election has been a great experience for me.

I have learned so much from those who ran against me and I appreciate the knowledge, experience, and even the disagreements from each and every one of them. Out of adversity often comes greatness and opportunity.

Having said that, this election has not been without its share of controversy.

Much continues to be said about whether or not the Common Sense group ran a slate and how much of an effect they had on the results.

A total of 5,307 people in Courtenay chose to exercise their democratic right and for that, I applaud you. My concern is with the roughly 71 per cent of the population who chose not to vote at all.

Where have we gone wrong? Did we confuse the issue by having too many candidates running or have we just not done enough to inspire you?

The volunteers at the polling stations tell us that the vast majority of voters were our senior citizens, leading me to conclude that it was many from the 18 to 40 demographic that chose not to vote.

Seventy-seven votes separated the mayoral frontrunners in Courtenay and the difference was only 54 in Comox. Seventy-seven is less than half of any of the three graduating classes of 2011.

Assuming the majority chose not to vote, I wonder if those 18- and 19-year-olds realize that they could have altered the outcome of the entire civic election. If all three graduating classes had gotten together, they could have elected or unelected any of the 33 candidates in Comox and Courtenay.

Now that’s affecting the results.

When the topic of voter apathy comes up, more often than not we point a finger towards those who chose not to vote. Maybe we’re not speaking their language.

Maybe we need to rethink how we educate young people on the importance of voting. Maybe it’s time to take the show on the road and engage the young people in their graduating year as part of preparing them for life as an adult.

Three groups of young people will graduate between now and the next civic election. The true measure of our success as a society will be when only 29 per cent of eligible voters chose not to vote. Are you up for the challenge?

It is not an easy decision to run and to open yourself up to potential criticisms, judgements and even a little mud-slinging. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in my recent campaign. Your faith in me is overwhelming and I look forward to serving you in some capacity in the future.

Congratulations to everyone who had the courage to run.

Mark Middleton,

Courtenay

Editor’s note: Mark Middleton ran unsuccessfully for a seat on Courtenay council.