As a first-time voter, I’m worried my ballot doesn’t really matter

Do you want young people to vote? Give us a system where our vote counts.

This will be the first federal election I’m eligible to vote in. My riding is solidly Conservative. Based on polling, history and the current state of the NDP, I would bet money that my riding will still be Conservative after election day. 

So what is the point in even voting?

Many of my friends echo this sentiment.

I truly believe that my vote does not matter under our first-past-the-post (FPTP) system, in which I only vote for one MP. The MP who wins has the same authority whether they win by one vote or 10,000.

Since it is a winner-take-all-system, a candidate can become your MP with 30 per cent of the vote, leaving 70 per cent of voters in a riding feeling as though their voices don’t matter. 

One of the most important things for my generation is a politician who sticks to their word.– Andrew Batycki

Justin Trudeau got 39.5 per cent of the popular vote, received 54 per cent of the seats and now has 100 per cent of the power. 

Before Trudeau was elected as prime minister, he stated that 2015 would be the last election under FPTP. This was incredibly exciting to hear. My first-ever vote would be under a new system, one where I made a difference even if I wasn’t voting for the dominant candidate.

You probably know Trudeau did not follow through on that promise. This is incredibly frustrating, but sadly not surprising. 

Trudeau was able to renege on his promise because FPTP empowers him to do so. I don’t know about you, but I’m not excited to vote when our government can’t be held accountable for breaking promises.

Force politicians to work together

One thing that I believe could both help hold politicians accountable and increase voter turnout among young people is a shift to proportional representation.

Under this system, MPs in different regions would be assigned based on the percentage of support each party gets. This helps ensure the number of seats a party gets directly corresponds to how many people who voted for it. 

This system would also force parties to work together to pass legislation, as it would be much harder to get a majority.

You might be thinking this all sounds a little idealistic and that politicians will be politicians no matter how they are elected. There’s probably a degree of truth to that statement, but I truly believe we would see a more responsible government if we had a system that forces politicians to work together.

From what I’ve seen, one of the most important things for my generation is a politician who sticks to their word. There’s not a doubt in my mind that a system that holds them to account and gives us the ability to truly elect who we want would increase voter turnout among young people.

This column is part of CBC’s Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ.

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