Vote PopUp: Every Voice Matters

Blog Post

Participation Wednesday, June 07, 2017 View Count = 873

Vote PopUp: Every Voice Matters

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"[Participants] came in with smiles on their faces and 
shared their excitement to participate in our democracy." 
– Sami, Vote PopUp organizer

The narrow margins of victory in last month's election in British Columbia served as a powerful reminder that, in an election, every vote counts and every voice matters.

Community groups working in marginalized communities know that individuals can be empowered when they vote. That's why, this election, 46 groups partnered with Samara Canada and Elections BC to run at least 122 Vote PopUps, engaging 4,300 individuals to know where, when and how to vote.

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By simulating the voting experience with official ballot boxes and voter screens, Vote PopUp is designed to foster engagement around elections and demystify the voting process for first-time or infrequent voters. In BC, participants were not only shown where, when and how to vote, but given a chance to practice casting a ballot and share why voting is important to them:

“I want my voice to be heard”

“To have a say in how our community runs!”

“It is my right!”

With reports still coming in, Samara has tracked 122 Vote PopUps across the Metro Vancouver area, engaging over 4,300 participants. This massive effort was the result of 46 community groups and 735 volunteer hours.

Groups that ran Vote PopUp ranged from Immigration Settlement Services of BC and the Vancouver Public Library, to the Urban Native Youth Association and Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House.

South Vancouver Neighbourhood House ran 14 Vote PopUps within a variety of community programs and activities. Their first foray into democratic engagement, South Van staff saw Vote PopUp as a way to engage community members on issues that affect their day-to-day lives.

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"We work with people from very diverse backgrounds," said Sophie Fung, a South Van staff member and Vote PopUp organizer. "Many of them didn't go to school in Canada and have a limited understanding of how our political system works," she explained. Vote PopUp "brought awareness of these knowledge gaps and helped us identify what our communities’ concerns are."

Preschoolers and elementary students at South Van got to vote on their favourite activity. Fieldtrips won. New Canadians, refugees, and immigrants who do not yet have citizenship voted on what political issue mattered most to them and their communities. Over 60% voted for affordable housing.

Sami Iwana, also with South Van, held Vote PopUps with English learners and reported that voting on issues they cared about sparked a conversation around government policies and ways to improve them. "Seeing these discussions being integrated into their learning of English was a joy to be a part of," he said. Immigrants shared stories about getting their citizenship and what democracy was like in their former homes.

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These stories inspire us to continue building engagement in future elections and in between them, reminding all Canadians that they, too, have a say. With the BC election being decided by only a handful of votes, this message seems as important as ever.

Congratulations Sophie, Sami and all the individuals and groups
who made the BC Vote PopUp pilot a resounding success!

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On the Samara BlBlog logo representing the letter 'o'g

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