The number of young people expected to vote on Oct. 14 could drop off dramatically, a survey released Wednesday warns.

The poll, conducted for the Dominion Institute by Innovative Research Group, found that the number of young voters who said they were definitely going to vote was down 7 points from the last election.

In 2006, 57 per cent of young voters polled said they would definitely vote. The actual turnout that year for youth was 50 per cent.

This year, only 50 per cent of those polled said they will definitely vote, a drop that concerns the Dominion Institute.

"Less than 44 per cent of voters under 24 actually cast a ballot in the last federal election and that number will probably go down, rather than up, on October 14," Marc Chalifoux, executive director of the Dominion Institute, said Wednesday in a press release.

"This is extremely troubling."

The drop in expected voters comes despite findings that three-quarters of young Canadians were concerned about the low voter turnout. Additionally, only 10 per cent of respondents said they felt their vote didn't matter.

The key reason given by respondents as to why they were likely not to vote was because some (30 per cent) felt they did not know enough.

Only 11 per cent said they would not vote because they were not interested or didn't care.

Chalifoux said the trend was not irreversible if action is taken soon.

He is recommending a series of initiatives to motivate young people to vote:

  • Parents and families should be talking to kids at home about politics.
  • When talking about politics, it is important to emphasize that voting is a duty, not a choice.
  • High schools should offer a mandatory course in civics.
  • Political parties need to reach out to young voters, notably by using new media.

In an effort to target voters, MTV Canada has launched 15-second spots featuring images of people apparently urinating with the caption: "There are other ways to mark your territory. On Oct. 14, vote."

MuchMusic spots will feature old people in places like gyms and classrooms, asking youth if they want old people making decisions for them.

Young people are the primary audience of the two specialty stations.

Poll Details and Methodology

  • The Dominion Institute's online survey was conducted among Canadians between the ages of 18 and 25 between September 10 and 15, 2008.
  • The total study included 1000 responses eligible for inclusion in our analysis.
  • Margin of error +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.
  • Demographic quotas were set up according to 2006 Census to reflect actual demographic breakdown.