Karen Caputo, Diana Juricevic, Martin Lavoie, Denise Taschereau and Léonie Tchatat
Many young Canadians don’t vote, largely because they feel they don’t have enough information on political parties and their candidates. That’s why five Action Canada Fellows established VoteSmart, a website dedicated to raising the political awareness of youth by publishing non-partisan and reliable election information.
Based on a similar and highly effective project in the U.S., VoteSmart came on-line in the lead-up to the 2004 federal election, offering non-partisan information on key issues and party positions. The site identified key electoral issues and provided voting records, party speeches, party platforms and historical party voting patterns.
To ensure they reached as many young Canadians as possible, the group also collaborated with youth organizations, incorporating their website in advertising and promotional campaigns in schools and universities. They also conducted a survey among university students, in partnership with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, to identify the issues that matter to youth.
In May 2003, VoteSmart partnered with VoteOutLoud and StudentVote2004 to provide content for and attend a televised debate featuring the Minister of Finance debating the federal budget with opposition party finance critics at an Ottawa high school.
VoteSmart’s central message: “To make a difference, you must know the difference.”