You’ve certainly seen the video.
If you have Facebook, that is. Because within days – maybe hours – of Matthew Kowalyk posting his election encourager to YouTube, and then to his own personal Facebook page (where it’s been made Public), the narrated short film had already racked up thousands of views and taken over your timeline.
It’s been shared on Facebook almost 42,000 times as of Tuesday, six days after it was first posted on October 7 – 12 days in advance of Canada’s federal election, and just before the country’s advanced voting polls opened.
“Please share widely on all the places you share stuff,” Kowalyk wrote. “And go vote.”
On YouTube, he writes: “This video is not sponsored by any political party. It was created by a concerned Canadian. It was paid for by no one.”
The video itself is fairly simple, with little editorial from the 41-year-old UBC student who created it. It uses a moving pie chart to illustrate its point, which is that the winning party in the 2011 federal election was ‘None of the above.’
“Two out of five eligible Canadian voters didn’t vote,” he says in the video. “Our current government was elected with 39 per cent of the votes cast, but only 61 per cent of eligible voters voted, one of the lowest voters turnouts in Canadian history.
“We’re Canada. We can do better than an F-minus-minus,” he concludes.
Of course, those are the numbers.
Voter turnout was actually 61.1 per cent in 2011 (via Elections Canada), one of the lowest in Canada’s federal history. It was only slightly higher than the country’s all-time worst turnout, which was 58.8 per cent in 2008.
According to Elections Canada, in the link above, voter turnout prior to 1993 often fluctuated between 80 per cent and 70 per cent.
“I wanted to try and engage those who feel disengaged, and try to show them how their vote matters, especially when so many people are not voting,” Kowalyk told the Huffington Post B.C., for a story published on Tuesday.
Kowalyk’s video is perhaps the most famous effort, so far, to bulk up the vote. As always, the youth vote has been targeted, with the feeling that millennials are the most politically apathetic demographic – at least, when it comes to showing up at the booth.
Only 38.8 per cent of voters aged 18 to 24 cast ballots in the federal election, again according to Elections Canada.
There are websites devoted to improving young voter turnout, with URLs like YouthVote.ca and the ‘I Will Vote‘ page on Canadians.org. As well, a group called ‘Turn Up YVR‘ was active last weekend, with buses and live music organized to entice and escort under-25s to the long weekend’s advanced voting window. Musicians who took part and lent their guitars and voices included Dan Mangan, Shaun Verreault (Wide Mouth Mason), Ryan Guldemond (Mother Mothers) and The Boom Booms.
“They’re active in new ways,” said organizer Hilary Farson, to CBC Radio, “so we asked ourselves how do you bridge that gap between the political acts youth are involved with and the traditional voting process.
“Let’s physically bring them to the polls and help them vote.”
Working on October 10, Turn Up YVR was hoping to get 300 people on their buses and voting in advanced booths.
On Tuesday, Elections Canada said 3.6 million Canadians voted over the Thanksgiving weekend, which was a 70 per cent bump from the advanced voting period in 2011.
A third of those came on Thanksgiving Monday alone.