The Secret to Getting Young Canadians to Vote [Q&A]

Step one: Be a young Canadian.

Oct 15, 2015


Caro Loutfi speaks to crowd about elections

Caro Loutfi is the Executive Director of Apathy is Boring

Apathy may be boring, but Caro Loutfi and her mission are most certainly not. Loutfi is the Executive Director of Apathy is Boring – a non-partisan organization that educates Canadian youth about democracy. The organization encourages active engagement, civic participation and sustainable dialogue between youth and decision-makers. As a youth-led group, Apathy is Boring knows exactly how to reach the 5.5 million millennials in Canada. FacebookTwitter#Hashtag campaigns, and selfies are just some of the means by which Loutfi and the Apathy is Boring team are drawing in young voters for the Canadian elections on October 19, 2015. In this week’s 10 Good Questions, Loutfi explains the importance of youth engagement and why her work doesn’t end when election season is over.

1. What is your organization’s mission?

Apathy is Boring uses art and technology to engage youth in democracy. We work to empower young Canadians to be more active and engaged citizens.

2. What makes you guys different from the rest?

We are the only youth-led, national, nonpartisan organization doing this type of work. We have been working to connect young Canadians to the democratic process since 2004 and continue this work both during and outside of election cycles. Being youth-led means that we genuinely understand the needs and barriers faced by our peers and have our fingers on the pulse of the best practices in youth-engagement.

3. What three words describe your organization?

Creative, innovative, young.

Apathy is Boring voting campaign example

Apathy is Boring knows exactly how to win over the hearts of Canadian youth: Tim Hortons

4. What inspires you?

I am inspired by people who challenge the status quo, who are not afraid to ask difficult questions and act on finding solutions the problems our societies face.

5. Who's your favorite good doer figure?

A wonderful, funny and intelligent person that I am fortunate to know and learn from is Mr. Jean-Pierre Kingsley. He was the President and CEO of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, working to provide support for elections in emerging democracies. They have provided assistance to over 135 countries and remind us of how fortunate we are to have the right to vote in Canada.

6. What is the best part about your job?

The people I work with. The philanthropic sector attracts incredible people who are committed to working collaboratively to find solutions to the problems we face. The hardest working, most innovative and creative solution finders I know, surround me every day.

7. How do you measure success within your organization?

We measure success in two ways. On the one hand, we gather data and numbers in order to measure our reach and evaluate our outreach strategies. For example, the young people we registered to vote through our face-to-face street teams during the 2013 British Columbia Provincial election ended up voting at a 17.5% higher rate than the provincial average for that same age group.

On the other hand, it can be difficult to measure a change in attitude regarding feelings of civic belonging and empowerment. In this case, we collect stories from youth we work with. Being able to share personal stories from the young people we affect, reflects back to oral history practices and the unique impact that storytelling can have.

Volunteers hold sign to get Canadian youth to vote

Volunteers hold a sign calling Canada's 5.5 million millennials to vote in the elections

8. Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter, because you get a broader perspective on news, current activities and cultural trends.

9. What do you want Goodnet users to know about your organization?

There are 5.5 million millennials between 18-30 in Canada who are eligible to vote, and we make up 20% of the electorate. Without electoral participation from Canadian citizens, we are putting into question the legitimacy of our democracy, and moreover the policies that are created by our democratic institutions.

Building a stronger bridge between youth, their communities and their government is long-term goal and will take time, creativity and innovation. Most importantly, it requires listening to young people as we build a more resilient and promising future. Regardless of the cause you are working towards, youth civic engagement will have an impact, and this upcoming election is an opportunity to ensure that youth opt in to the democratic process.

10. How can people get involved?

Right now you can ask someone you know who has never voted before to join you at the polls on Election Day (if you’re Canadian, of course).  However, for Apathy is Boring, October 20 is just as important as October 19. Youth civic engagement is something that we are always working towards and that work doesn’t end on Monday. Check out our website for year-round volunteering opportunities, and host local or community fundraisers to help us continue doing this work.