Under The Influence: The Voter Turnout Effort Gets Its Fingers Burnt

Doing the right thing, the wrong way.

We’ve heard a lot recently about mysterious influence over elections, but we saw a very ‘millennial’ twist on that last week

For Putin, read (Max) Parrot.  

Earlier this month, Elections Canada announced a C$650,000 campaign to encourage young people to vote in the upcoming federal elections.

Its plan was to get 13 well-known influencers – including Olympians Andre De Grasse and Max Parrot, YouTubers Lilly Singh and Mitch Hughes, and model and activist Ashley Callingbull – to star in a video promoting voter registration, particularly among the under 24s.

Just three weeks later, however, the idea’s been canned, after the vetting process found that the “past activities” of some of the influencers could be seen as “partisan.”

The sad thing is that what Elections Canada were trying to do was actually a really good – and important – thing, as around 40% of 18-to-24-year-olds aren’t registered to vote.  And the views of younger generations do make a difference – you only need to look at how far cannabis laws have come in the past few years.  So we’re all in favour of encouraging voting.

But still, you have to think that the warning signs were kind of there at the beginning. 

Not least when, at the campaign launch, Elections Canada boss Stéphane Perrault said:

I have not picked these people and I have to confess that I probably wouldn’t recognize many of them …”

Is it us or does that make you wonder if this was an idea based on some marketing agency’s view of what would get “the young people” to vote, rather than actually speaking to them, trying to get their views, and treating them as more than just celebrity-obsessed social media addicts?

And that’s before you even get to the fact that the whole idea seems to rely on none of these influencers having at any point in the past formed or expressed any political opinions…

In many ways, the same challenges face cannabis users too – there remain those that fail to think about the makeup of an entire culture before making judgments about it or decisions that affect it, and instead focus on high-profile outliers or stereotypes.

Let’s hope that changes. But of course, if it’s going to, we all need to make our voices heard …

Have you registered yet?