Canada student mobs aim to make voting go viral

Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:57pm EDT
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Wearing neon colors, dancing and flashing "I vote" signs for video cameras, students in Canada's capital on Monday joined a growing movement of youth "vote mobs" aimed at shaking up the May 2 national election.

The flash rally at Carleton University in Ottawa was the latest in a series of events on campuses across the country aimed at mobilizing first-time voters and challenging the notion that youth don't care about politics.

"We're here and we're loud and we'll definitely go out and vote," said Meera Chander, a 25-year-old law student who helped organize the rally.

The impromptu "vote mobs" are boisterous, colorful events during which students run around campuses, sing, dance and shout, waving signs and Canadian flags. The events are taped and uploaded on to YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites.

The numbers are not always big -- only about 40 showed up at Carleton despite some 400 who pledged to do so on Facebook -- but organizers say the idea is for their message to go viral online. The message is simply to vote and doesn't support any one candidate or party.

"These videos are created ... and they go to thousands of thousands of people. Social media has played such a huge role in these elections," Chander said.

Only 37 percent of Canadians aged 18 to 24 showed up to vote in the 2008 election, Elections Canada estimates.

The "vote mob" movement was inspired by well-known political comedian Rick Mercer who challenged youth to get more involved.   Continued...