This review provides Elections Canada with an overview of academic research that illuminates how candidates and political parties engage and mobilize young electors. It first reviews the relevant literature about how candidates and political parties reach out to youth through engagement and mobilization. The main challenges to party outreach are then identified. The review investigates five case studies in greater depth – Canada, the US, the UK, New Zealand and Finland – and highlights notable practices among the cases for youth engagement and mobilization. It concludes with points of consideration for the Canadian context and suggested areas for future research.
The review illuminates three main challenges to youth outreach strategies:
There are several important considerations for candidates and parties creating youth outreach strategies:
The jurisdictional comparison of youth outreach across case studies finds that:
The literature, on the whole, does not offer a thorough understanding of how parties engage youth between elections. The review makes a number of recommendations for future research in Canada.
Although it is difficult to provide best practices, the literature suggests that there is not necessarily a trade-off between election-driven behaviour and behaviour that fulfills parties' other functions as public utilities. Greater inclusion and participation by youth would not only enhance Canada's democratic health, it can be a part of a successful long-term electoral strategy for a party.