Preparing young citizens to participate in elections can start with engaging classroom discussions, but teachers can help prepare students in practical ways too. Canadian citizens who are between 14 and 17 years old can be added to the Register of Future Electors. Tell your students that one of the simplest ways to get on this list is to check “yes” on their tax forms.
By checking “yes” on their income tax forms, young Canadian citizens will have their name included on the Register of Future Electors and, when they turn 18, their information will be entered into the National Register of Electors. When an election is called, they’ll receive a voter information card that tells them where, when and the ways to vote.
Voting is habit forming. Research tells us that those who vote in the first election in which they are eligible are likely to become lifelong voters. By checking “yes” now on their tax forms, future electors can ensure that they will get the information they need in order to vote in a federal election for the first time.
Financial literacy is taught in many ways across Canada and often involves instructing students on how to complete tax forms. You can include a simple message to students under the age of 18 about checking the boxes to get on the Register of Future Electors in any financial literacy classroom. The privacy of all information in the Register of Future Electors is protected by the Canada Elections Act and the Privacy Act. Elections Canada ensures that the information in the Register is kept secure and used for authorized purposes only. Under the Canada Elections Act, future electors’ information cannot be shared with political parties, members of Parliament or candidates.
Of course, teachers who use Elections Canada’s resources for secondary classrooms can also integrate the simple message to check “yes” on their students’ income tax forms into the consolidation of the lesson. It’s a simple but meaningful way for students to engage in the democratic process before they even turn 18.
Visit Elections Canada’s website for more information.