Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Young enumerator takes election process to heart

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CAM Bredin was just one day shy of being old enough to vote in last May's federal election.

But the recent Linden Christian School graduate is making up for the disappointment by throwing himself into the upcoming provincial election with gusto.

Bredin, who turned 18 May 3, has been going door to door in south Winnipeg for the last two weeks, registering people to vote in the Oct. 4 provincial election.

"I thought it would be pretty fun," said Bredin.

He's signed up about 350 people so far and says only one person wasn't exactly happy to see him and asked him to leave.

"Most people had a positive response," said Bredin.

Some were surprised to see a teenager involved in the election process, but Bredin doesn't see what he's doing as anything out of the ordinary.

But it really is.

Elections Manitoba hires about 3,000 enumerators to go door to door getting voters' names on the registered voters list. In the last two provincial elections, only about 150 of them were under the age of 25. The average age of an enumerator was 53.

Youth are usually the most apathetic when it comes to voting -- only slightly more than one in three Canadians between 18 and 25 voted in the 2008 federal election, according to a study done by Elections Canada. (Demographic details aren't available yet from the May 2 vote.)

Data from the 2008 election show youth had the lowest turnout of any age group and were consistently the least likely to vote in every province and territory. Manitoba was the worst of that group, as well, with the lowest turnout among both 18- and 19-year-olds and 20- to 24-year-olds.

Just one in five young people from Manitoba who could have voted for the first time actually did so in 2008. Fewer than one in three voters between 20 and 24 who were eligible to vote did so.

Prince Edward Island was the only province where more than half the youths between 18 and 24 cast ballots.

Bredin doesn't get the problem. "I don't know why someone wouldn't vote," he said.

In school, they learned about elections in grades nine and 10 and during the recent election, their studies included learning about the difference between minority and majority governments. He said he thinks most of his friends will vote but if he hears someone say they won't, he will push the issue.

"I'd ask them why and try to say voting is a right and a privilege," he said.

Bredin doesn't know yet which party he sides with and has no plans to join any particular party any time soon. But he wants to be part of the process and Elections Manitoba offers him a non-partisan way to play a role.

The pay isn't the draw for Bredin and other enumerators -- Elections Manitoba pays $34 for an enumerator to attend a training session. Then there is a base pay of $120 and an additional 75 cents for every voter an enumerator signs up.

Sisters Chloe and Sarah Werle have been pounding the pavement for democracy four times in the last week. Between them, they've signed up more than 100 people. Chloe, 18, says she and Sarah, 20, have always been politically minded, due in large part to their upbringing.

"My dad always used to take us to vote," said Chloe, who is about to start her second year at the University of Manitoba studying kinesiology.

She said she has fond memories of going with her dad to the polling stations and going with him right into the booth where he marked his ballot.

Chloe said whenever her friends talk about voting as if it doesn't matter, she takes a stand.

"I talk to all my friends about it," she said. "I tell them 'It does affect you 100 per cent. It affects health care and education. It's not like you never get sick and never get health care.' "

She said she usually pays attention to the news, but when she knew she was making a decision with her vote in May she paid extra attention.

It was the first time either Chloe or Sarah had been eligible to vote in an election and it was, said Chloe, a great experience.

"It gives you a feeling of making a difference," said Chloe. "It's very empowering."


It's your future. Vote on Oct. 4.

Follow the Democracy Project on Facebook

Khan would like a word with you

Down, set, vote! Blue Bomber lineman Obby Khan never misses a chance to exercise his right to vote. And he has a democratic game plan for the Oct. 4 provincial election he wants you to follow. To see Khan's video message from our voter's booth, go to:

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 12, 2011 A7


Updated on Friday, August 12, 2011 at 5:18 PM CDT: Corrects name.

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