Matthew Vandervoet | May 19, 2022
They’re first-time voters, they’re motivated and for the most part, they’re undecided.
But for five students at Greater Fort Erie Secondary School (GFESS), the upcoming provincial election is important as they feel it will be the first time they get the chance to have their voices heard.
For Sasha Knutt, it means doing some homework.
“It’s about being informed,” she said, adding politicians need to pay attention to the younger demographic such as the GFESS group. “They need to get the facts out to younger people about the issues they care about.”
Issues that come up in the conversation with Knutt and the other four students — Claudia Oliver, Morgan Gabrys, Reese Horvath and Keenan Chevalier — range from climate change to jobs to affordable housing. But all of them feel it’s up to them to learn about each party’s stance on those issues before they head to the polls.
“It’s best to get informed,” Knutt said. “And find out who you think is going to get the most done during their time.”
For Oliver, going out to vote is a no-brainer. She has been encouraged by her family to take part in the electoral process and will align her vote with whom she thinks will be the best representative at Queen’s Park to represent the Niagara Falls riding.
“My parents always taught me to vote for the campaign, not the party,” she said.
She admitted that at the moment, only one party is really addressing her concerns about climate change.
“Nobody but the NDP is talking about the issues that young people are concerned about,” she said.
Chevalier, meanwhile, said it is important to be aware of the issues before casting a ballot. He will then vote for the candidate who jibes most with how he feels.
“I think it is just the way I was brought up,” he said. “I’ll vote for whoever best lines up with my morals and values.”
Horvath said she will definitely perform due diligence before heading to the polls. She plans on gathering as much information on each of the candidates running and the party platforms before she marks her ballot with an "X."
Her reasoning is simple, she said.
“A lot of politicians will say ‘this’ and then they’ll do ‘that,’ ” she said.
Gabrys, meanwhile, said that much like Oliver, she has spoken with her parents about voting.
“They tell me to get the facts on each party,” she said.
The group feels they are in the minority when they consider the demographics of the Niagara Falls riding — which incorporates Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, with the majority of the riding’s population being over the age of 50. According to the 2016 Canadian Census, 98,125 of 136,295 residents living in the riding were over 50. The number in the students’ main demographic of ages -- 15 to 24 -- is 15,330.
“I think even a lot of the politicians are 35 and up,” Knutt said.
But being in the minority will not deter Knutt from making her vote count., and she said there are plenty of other people her age who will also be voting for the first time.
“Now being 18, I’ll be voting and I know a lot of other people who will be voting, too.”
By: Richard Hutton
Fort Erie Post