Faculty of Arts

Elections BC: Ethics in Action

The young voter turnout is Canada is especially low. In 2011, only 38.8 percent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 24 cast their ballots in the Canadian federal election. Determined to find the causes of low democratic participation, six undergraduate students from political science and philosophy at Thompson Rivers University are engaged in an Ethics in Action research project under the guidance of Dr. Terry Kading (political science) and Jeff McLaughlin (philosophy). Over the summer and fall of 2016, the political science students created a survey questionnaire to directly target the issues surrounding democracy and voting incentives. The results of this survey will be compiled into concrete suggestions for BC Elections to engage and encourage a higher young voter turnout.

This website is a resource for young electors as well as as platform for disseminating the research findings. Compiled here are resources that should help young eligible voters to familiarize themselves with the democratic process in BC. We have gathered information and hope that you will find it to be clear and helpful in promoting political commitment. For students and academics interested in democracy, we have sourced a number of articles and podcasts for further research into the ethics of political participation.

As research findings continue to come in, this website will be updated and further literary sources will be included to highlight emerging themes in the motivations of youth to vote. Upon compilation of the survey results, the undergraduate researchers will pair the survey data with the existing political engagement research to create strategic proposals for Elections BC. These strategies and suggested action plan will be made available through this website.

This project in the media

Radio interview

Listen to a CBC interview with Casey Helgason and Brayden Wilson, two of the undergraduate researchers, discuss the project and its importance.


News item

Faculty Supervisor Dr. Terry Kading (political science) and undergraduate researcher Brayden Wilson introduce the project to the TRU community.


Information for young voters

Compiled here are resources for young Canadians to learn more about participating in elections, democracy, and their rights and freedoms as citizens. We have collected resources to answer questions and common misconceptions about voting in British Columbia. We hope this will serve as an accessible site that aids in familiarizing young voters with the electoral system. To learn more about elections in BC, please refer to the Elections BC website.

The next provincial election in BC is scheduled for May 9, 2017. Information on voter rights and political agendas is accessible. Get involved today.

 Voting eligibility

To qualify as a provincial voter in B.C. you must be:

  • a Canadian citizen;
  • 18 years of age or older on General Voting Day for the election;
  • a resident of the electoral district for which you are electing an MLA;
  • a resident of British Columbia for at least 6 months immediately before General Voting Day for the election; and
  • registered as a voter for the electoral district or register as such in conjunction with voting
  • are not disqualified from voting.
You may be eligible to register to vote through the Elections BC Website. » Learn more

When you go to vote, make sure you have the correct identification that proves your identity and residential address.

As stated on the Elections BC website, a voter must provide either:

Option 1

One document issued by the government of BC or Canada that contains the voter’s name, photograph and residential address, such as:

  • a B.C. driver’s licence,
  • a B.C. Identification Card (BCID), or
  • a B.C. Services Card
Option 2

A certificate of Indian status as issued by the government of Canada

Option 3

Two documents that together show the voter’s name and residential address. Both documents must show the voter’s name. At least one of the documents must show the voter’s residential address.

» Voter identification
 Electoral districts

There are 85 electoral districts in British Columbia. Which riding do you belong to? As per the Elections BC website, if you are a student you can choose to vote in the riding where you go to school, or in the the riding you usually live in when not in school.

» Map of electoral districts
 Political parties

Learn more about the political parties through their online platforms. Listed are the below are the largest political parties in British Columbia, but many more independent parties exist. » Full chart of parties in the 2013 provincial election

We encourage you stay up to date with the political parties. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

BC Liberal Party (current majority): Website

BC New Democratic Party (current official opposition): Website

BC Green Party: Website

BC Conservative Party: Website

 Your rights as a voter in Canada

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, established in 1982, protects the rights of Canadians to vote and to run as a candidate. Furthermore, voters are entitled to four consecutive hours of no work on General Election day so that may exercise their right to vote. The list of voter rights is extensive, and knowing the fundamental rights of voters will aid in developing confidence in your political engagement. For example, all voters have a right to privacy. Knowing you are legally protected to have your voting selection remain confidential can make you feel secure participating in political discourse. Also, this helps to ensure that no one faces retribution for exercising their right to vote.

Elections Canada has written The Pillars of Electoral Democracy, which outlines the main characteristics of Canada’s electoral democracy. Explore for yourself the structure of our democratic system, and how it is designed to serve and protect Canadians.

Interested in learning about the history of the right to vote in Canada? Check out the Elections Canada website.


Mancini, Pia. "How To Upgrade Democracy For The Internet Era"

(Ted.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.)

One of the main criticisms levied against democratic systems is that they have not kept up with the times. In this 13 minute video, Pia Mancini outlines the disconnect of citizens and government which has arisen from a democratic system that was founded using 15th century information systems and has failed to adapt to modern technologies. Recognizing that those who “sit at the table” make decisions that do not reflect those they are aiming to represent, Mancini has developed software that allows citizens to enter directly the political conversation, and have this conversation available for political representatives. Pancini highlights the struggles of introducing this technology, but is hopeful that Democracy OS will help to repair the disconnect between committed decision makers and citizens, who do not maintain a strong and continual presence in policy making conversations. Can we look to Mancini’s developments as models for updating our own democratic institution?

Henn, Matt, Mark Weinstein, and Sarah Forrest. "Uninterested Youth? Young People's Attitudes Towards Party Politics In Britain"

(Political Studies 53.3 (2005): 556-578. Web.)

Research shows that Britain witnesses similar rates of young voter turnout as we do in Canada. After the 2001 British General Election which had the lowest voter turnout rate since 1918, researchers embarked on a similar project as our own and surveyed more than 700 young people nationwide to learn about their political lives. This paper outlines the methods and findings of that survey and offers critical analyses of conceptualizing what constitutes and contributes to political engagement for young voters. Importantly, the authors note the importance of recognizing different approaches studying young people's political engagement as introduced by Kimberlee (2002). By recognizing the different measures of engagement with politics discussed in this paper, our team may be better equipped to create suggestions for bridging political engagement such as volunteerism and activism with turnout at the polls. It is certain that research such as this denotes the complexity of examining political engagement, especially in regards to quantifying information that pertain to concepts which are subjective.

Apathy is Boring

(N.p., 2015.)

Want to get involved? Apathy is boring is a “national, non-partisan charitable organization that uses art and technology to educate youth about democracy”. Their catchy website offers many accessible easy resources and opportunities for youth to get involved with campaigns, tips for community engagement, and tools for government to get youth participating in political action. The best part is it a youth for youth initiative, meaning those who developed these tools, tips and campaigns are relatable and approachable. Want to know how politics affects your daily life? Play this quick game to learn about the impacts of the different levels of government.

Independent Panel on Internet Voting,. Recommendations Report To The Legislative Assembly Of British Columbia

(Victoria: N.p., 2014. Web. 14 Oct. 2016.)

One possible avenue for democratic change is implementing internet voting. The possibility of voting online as opposed to traditional paper ballot methods brings with it many questions regarding security, accessibility, cost, and chance of increasing voter turnout. The Independent Panel on Internet Voting critically reviewed the possibilities and challenges of internet voting and has made their findings public. In February of 2014, their report titled “Recommendations Report to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia – February 2014” was tabled in the Legislative Assembly after a six-week public comment period that took place in October 2013. It should be highlighted that many of the reports sections are rather accessible and showcases results that may be surprising to some. Particularly useful for the purposes of the Elections BC Ethics in Action survey is the conclusion that the panel is “not convinced that Internet voting will result in increased turnout” (Independent Panel on Internet Voting, page 41).